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One-Line Bio

A former Belgian in his forties who studied in the States and is presently living in the Middle East. I used to be a leftist until quite thoroughly mugged by reality. I did not so much become a "neoconservative" as an ideoskeptic by the experience. If label me you must, call me an "engineerist" or a "radical pragmatic centrist" :-)

Biography

Just between us, I think it's time to recognize
The differences we sometimes fear to show
Just between us, I think it's time to realize
That spaces in between leave room for you and I to grow
(Rush, Entre nous)

Nobody cares about my "biography". Suffice to say that I am staying anonymous not for fear of repercussions from anything I write, but because I would like to keep my professional and blogosphere lives separate. Let me instead offer some of [Former] "Belgian's Familiar Quotations":


History occurs twice: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. (Karl Marx)

As best as I can tell, [antiwar spin] is a parody of Stalin: one person killed by America is a tragedy. A hundred thousand killed by Saddam, or a million by Pol Pot, are a statistic. (Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, a.k.a. Instapundit.)

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am but for myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (R' Hillel the Elder, cited in "Sayings of the Fathers"/Pirkei Avot)

It is not upon man to finish the work, but neither is he free to abstain from it. (R' Tarfon, ibid.)

The righteous of all nations will have a share in the World to Come. (Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a)

Like integrity, love of life was not a subject to be studied, it was a contagion to be caught. And you had to catch it from someone who had it. (Lois McMaster Bujold, "Mirror Dance")

He who displays mercy to the cruel will end up having been cruel towards the merciful. (Hebrew proverb)

There is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of Western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. (George Orwell, "Notes on nationalism".)

Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties [...] -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. (George Orwell, "Politics and the English language".)

Woe unto those who call evil 'good' and good 'evil'. (Isaiah 5:20)

That old saw about "to understand all is to forgive all" is a lot of tripe. Some things, the more you understand them, the more you loathe them. (Robert A. Heinlein, "Starship Troopers")

A generation that ignores history has no past, and no future. (Robert A. Heinlein)

Morality is [...] a refinement of the survival instinct. [...] Moral behavior is survival behavior [taken] above the individual level. (Robert A. Heinlein)

In difficult ground, press on. On hemmed-in ground, use subterfuge. In death ground, fight. (Sun-Tzu, "The art of war")

Communism. Interesting idea. Wrong species. (Edmund O. Wilson, "Sociobiology")

The most fundamental distinction in politics appears to be between systems built on idealistic visions of what man should be, and those built on empirical observations of what man is. (Former Belgian)

The day may dawn when fair play, love for one's fellow men, respect for justice and reedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair. (Winston Churchill, last speech to the House of Commons.)

Interests

Interests: weblogs, anti-idiotarianism, politics, the US-European cultural divide, recent history, Israel, the Middle East, skepticism, religion, physics, chemistry, computing, engineering, classical music, progressive rock, classic hard rock and metal, literature, science fiction