Tuesday, February 06, 2018

In which the Caterists induce a sense of end times ennui ...

Some days the pond wonders why the reptiles couldn't do the pond, and many others, a public service by locking the Caterist tight behind a Times-style paywall.

They're doing it for assorted sensitive souls, but on an ad hoc basis, and it's just not fair.

The pond began blogging a long time ago, way back in July 2008 and never thought of carrying on, but at one time resolved that it would reconsider, if the Chairman dropped off the twig, the lizard Oz was forced to give up its tree killer edition, and go full digital, or the pond's tenth anniversary came around ...

Another milestone is worth mentioning.

If the reptiles would only put pond favourites behind the paywall, it would be a major achievement, and the pond might be able to leave its obsession with reptiles behind and take an interest in the wider world.

The more reptiles taken out of the conversation, the more that are hidden in the digital attic, left to blather at the blank walls, the better for all ... and the pond could claim its mission was accomplished. It seems the Major Mitchell has gone into hiding, a precious whining snowflake at the best of times, and without any justification at all, naturally the pond takes full credit for him being as hard to find as a lost Order of Lenin ...

Locking them all up would be a special boon when Caterist day came around.

How many times is it possible to argue about the number of angels on a pinhead, or which pinhead, nattering "Ned" or carping Caterist, is the dullest of them all?

For those wondering where the latest Caterist inspiration came from, the google offers the obvious juxtaposition ...


The pond experienced a major depressive moment just at the thought of going there.

Sure yesterday had been good. The pond knew nothing of American football ... even whether it was football ...

Yet Colbert had assured the pond that it was vital that the Patriots be defeated, and so they were, a stern lesson for Trumpists and cheats and deflategatists everywhere ...

The pond knew there'd be a price to pay, and sure enough it came with possibly the dullest man dully scribbling about health funds ...

Not even the mention of Lactantius could cheer the pond up, though it was typical of a Caterist to quote a barking mad chiliast in the grip of millennialism ...

None of the fathers thus far had been more verbose on the subject of the millennial kingdom than Lactantius or more particular in describing the times and events preceding and following. 
He held to the literalist interpretation of the millennium, that the millennium originates with the second advent of Christ and marks the destruction of the wicked, the binding of the devil and the raising of the righteous dead. 
He depicted Jesus reigning with the resurrected righteous on this earth during the seventh thousand years prior to the general judgment. 
In the end, the devil, having been bound during the thousand years, is loosed; the enslaved nations rebel against the righteous, who hide underground until the hosts, attacking the Holy City, are overwhelmed by fire and brimstone and mutual slaughter and buried altogether by an earthquake: rather unnecessarily, it would seem, since the wicked are thereupon raised again to be sent into eternal punishment. 
Next, God renews the earth, after the punishment of the wicked, and the Lord alone is thenceforth worshiped in the renovated earth.
Lactantius confidently stated that the beginning of the end would be the fall, or breakup, of the Roman Empire ... (here for Greg Hunters wanting footnotes).

Uh huh, an end of times dropkick of the first water, just the sort the barking mad Caterists would love ...

And from there it was just a short hop and a skip to fond memories of the Roman tax on urine ...and Vespasian's immortal line pecunia non olet ...

And from there, the pond couldn't resist all the hard righters who insisted that what ruined Rome was the rent seekers ...

One category of rent seeking involves the spending of money that the average taxpayer sees as foolish but that benefits a particular group. The groups who bear the costs can stop the rent seeking if they are informed. These average citizens were peasant farmers who no doubt recognized the costs but were unable to form political coalitions to protect themselves because military control of Roman legions was under the tight control of the emperor. This was not the case under the Republic. With the emperors, public funds were being diverted from the public infrastructure such as road building and repair to more frivolous activities.... (Greg Hunt the abstract here)

Hmm, that's strangely evocative of current decadence ... and frivolous activities scoring funding ...

Pecunia non olet!

And now since Greg Hunt has been mentioned a couple of times ...

That story is at news.com.au here, with the usual forced ads,  only a few months ago in December 2017 ...wherein the relevant minister, Greg Hunt himself, allegedly a member of a mainstream political party, proposed a form of price fixing to address a policy challenge.

Now read on, and see why whenever the pond reads the Caterist, existential ennui is sure to follow ...

What the fuck? Historical struggles between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie were imagined by German intellectuals?

Did someone mention tosh?

The pond just couldn't go there, it would involve a trawl through history too tedious to imagine ...the serfs, the peasants, the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks, and all the rest, apparently imagined by German intellectuals ...

What's the point?

The pond understands that it's the Caterist's business to support big business. How else to keep the donations coming into the MRC? After all, it's not possible to survive just by leeching off the Australian taxpayer ...

And now to a hearty dose of Caterist messianic millennialism, in which everything might well be rooned, and which suggests that the pond got it wrong.

Truly the Caterists are the thought child of Lactantius, with the whole pack of cards soon to collapse, perhaps even by Xmas ...

It will be noted that for all his blather, and his talk of exceptional political courage, the Caterist doesn't provide a single policy suggestion of any note, which is why, when he talks of boredom with proper policy, the pond's ennui increased even further...

The pond had to admit it was looking for distraction, and the tedious stupidity of the Caterists wasn't that much of a decent distraction ... why, a game of football would offer more.

Is this what the taxpayer forked over money to the MRC for? So that they could promote the cause of sugar and obesity and all the rest of it, while resolutely refusing to offer any policy suggestions in relation to health?

So easy to slag off comrade Bill, so hard for a bear after taxpayer honey to think.

Well here's a policy slogan any Caterist could get behind:

What do we want? Tax cuts for the rich! When do we want them? Now, before the end times come ...

Well at least there was one decent distraction to hand, the distracting Rowe, with more of his distractions here ...


  1. "...the pond might be able to leave its obsession with reptiles behind and take an interest in the wider world."

    That would be quite something DP. I (and I'm certain that really means 'we') do enjoy your effortless destruction of the reptiles on a daily basis - and I'd say that you have achieved the Zen state of "artless art" in every respect: commentary, cartoons (quality and quantity), links and ongoing lessons in literacy, history and society.

    One always hates to think of a good thing ending, but maybe your recent attention to the Aussie Spectator indicates a desire for more challenging targets (though, forgive me, they are not to be found in the Speccie - though yes, Mr "Aux bien pensants" does have his own madness to amuse us all).

    You have once already graduated from your initial target to taking on the entire Murdoch herpetarium - but over time, even that challenge may need to be reconsidered.

    And in the meantime, a little bit of Fitzgerald's Khayyam for the pause that refreshes:

    Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
    About it and about: but evermore
    Came out by the same Door as in I went.

    Ah! my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
    To-day of past Regrets and future Fears
    To-morrow?–Why, To-morrow I may be
    Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years

  2. Start with a stupid premise and what follows is probably too stupid to waste my time on. Since the Caterist almost always starts from stupid...

    Despite its name, Diocletian's Edict on Maximum Prices was not what Goosebumps thinks. It was not a price control dictat, per se, but an attempt to regulate the exchange rate between fiat-value bronze coinage and precious-metal-value silver and gold. Diocletian had made great strides in restoring the confidence in gold and silver currency, which had been, respectively, mildly and absurdly debased by the the string of contenders for the throne. You've set yourself up as emperor, but have no money? Never mind, just hoover up as much silver coin as you can find, re-mint it with a fraction of the silver content, and boom! Money tree!

    Diocletian made progress in stabilising the value of silver coins, but (due to his failed early version of "quantitative easing") couldn't manage the same with everyday bronze coins , which halved in value over the last five years of his reign (since these were used for everyday transactions, that means an effective inflation rate of 15% per year). But prices for things paid for in silver and gold didn't change that much. The Edict regulated prices based on a nominal ratio between bronze coins and gold. Ultimately it failed and it took another 30 years to even vaguely sort out the mess left by the chaos of the late 3rd century.

    The range of commodities in the edict are the giveaway; yes they include everyday items, but go as high as one pound of purple dyed silk set at 150,000 denarii. As if anyone would buy such a commodity with bronze coins? Of course its actual value was around 125 - 150 solidi, but the point was to fix the exchange rate in the ballpark of 1000 - 1200 d to the solidus.

    Restoring "full faith and credit" to the currency is something he should praise, but the Billericay Boy will always go for a little razzle-dazzle if he thinks it will sound clever to his readers. Oz opinion pieces are a bit like 3rd century silver coins. Early ones probably had some intrinsic value, but recently have become so debased that they just have a little bling on the surface to hide the dull metal within.

    1. A life-rule for the Right-wingnuts: if you don't understand anything, then you don't have to admit to anything.

    2. The pond is impressed, FrankD!!

    3. Aren't we all just a wee bit.

    4. Ahh well it's good to know that an overpriced education and blowing off a few terms on Ancient History at uni wasn't a complete waste of time then. My pater familias would be chuffed! 8^)

    5. Well it's good that somebody still knows these things, FD, but of course all things slowly melt away into oblivion over time. In a world in which more is written and published every 15 minutes (even if only on the web) than any one person could read in a lifetime, then 'human knowledge' becomes a very uncertain matter.

      Though I did wonder if Niall Ferguson might have had something to say about Diocletian in his 'The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World' but life is too short to spend any amount of it reading Ferguson writings.

  3. It slightly shames me to admit, but I quite like some of Ferguson's early stuff - The Pity of War is thought-provoking, though it has much that I disagree with. The Ascent of Money (or at least the bits of the series I saw) had some interesting takes, but it was a bit like a sushi train - the random morsels are tasty, but there is never enough unagi to satisfy everyone. TAoM only briefly mentions Roman finances, so if he does mention Diocletian at all, it's probably in line with the Caterist - I wouldn't be surprised if that's where Nick got his wisdom, which I sure is received rather than earned.

    Ferguson was pretty old school from the start, but somewhere in the early noughties he became positively odd, and by 2010 he'd gone full RWNJ, wondering endlessly why others didn't appreciate his evident genius...


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