Just in case you aren’t a Facebook friend of Andy Wood this is what he has to say about those non-conforming neutrinos:
Anyone want to take me up on this bet:
I’ll offer £200 at even odds that before 23rd September 2012, some error will be found in the CERN experiment nullifying the alleged observation of superluminal neutrinos.
I’ll offer £1000 at odds of 1 to 5 (ie I risk £1000, you risk £200) that some such error will be found in the above experiment before 2016.
I’m only offering each bet once.
A packing crate containing an LCD monitor fell from the second floor and landed on my head. Estimated impact: 470 Joules.
Went to hospital. No brain injury. No broken bones. Black eye (no idea how that was caused). Mildest of headaches. Very sleepy.
Suspect it would have been a lot worse if it had been a CRT monitor.
1. Shut up. Suffer any injustice rather than go public.
2. Do the work. The winners (I am reliably informed) are the ones who do just that.
How do we know it wasn’t faked?
In a previous posting I asked whether the American Revolution deserved the name. I asked, if its aim, as is so often claimed, was freedom then, when the dust had settled, what freedoms did Americans possess that Britons did not.
I didn’t get many replies. A couple of commenters pointed out (citing the French and Russian examples) that revolutions don’t have to have anything to do with freedom to be called revolutions. That’s a fair point but still, in what way was the American Revolution a revolution? I often hear the claim that it got rid of the monarchy. But hadn’t Britain already done precisely that? Sure there was a guy called George III who was called the monarch but what powers did he really have? It seems to me that after about 1720 (and the creation of the office of Prime Minister) the British monarchy was something of a paper tiger.
Thankfully, a chap called Maldain took up the challenge:
Well, let’s see at the time. The average Brit didn’t have the right to free and unfettered speech. Speaking against the crown was considered sedition and punishable by prison or death. The average Brit didn’t enjoy a truly free press as the crown could and did shut down the press at will.
The average Brit was not allowed to keep and bear arms.
The average Brit was required when so ordered to quarter troops in their homes.
The average Brit’s home, business and person was eligible to be searched at any time without showing cause.
The average Brit did not have the right to not speak in court. In fact was required to give evidence against himself.
That’s much more interesting. But is it true? Did Britons genuinely not have these freedoms at the time? For instance, isn’t the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in the (English) Bill of Rights? The other thing is that Maldain’s list appears to be a listing of the amendments to the US Constitution. Fair enough, but what the law says and what the law does are two different things. Did Americans genuinely enjoy these freedoms after they were introduced in 1791?
Yes, Brian, it is.
From Worse Than Failure
This week’s bunch of fileable stuff comes from here, there and everywhere. In the Blogosphere, that is.
Oil’s Supply and Demand Curves
Robert Smithson, The Oil Drum, 19 August 2007.
Although, as the name suggests, primarily about oil, it serves as an excellent primer on supply and demand in general. (Via Pajamas Media)
The Unintended Consequences of Foreign Aid: Theodore Dalrymple on how Western policies have poisoned the water supplies of 70 million in Bangladesh
Social Affairs Unit, 3 September 2007.
It’s UNICEF what done it.
Man of Steel, Re-forged
Andrew J. Bacevich, National Interest, 29 August 2007.
Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 by Geoffrey Roberts.
In claiming that Stalin was a gifted supreme commander and a man of peace he has caused quite a stir. So, we should be grateful for Bacevich’s partial takedown. (Via A&L Daily)
William D. Rubinstein wonders how a nation came to be enthralled by a belief-system quite as insane as genocidal anti-semitism: The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 - Saul Friedlander
Social Affairs Unit, 3 September 2007.
He wonders but fails to find an answer.
Blair talks Giuliani’s language but handcuffs cops
Julia Magnet, Daily Telegraph, 21 November 2002.
How they brought crime down in New York
Fight crime by stamping out the seedbed
Norman Dennis, Daily Telegraph, 26 August 2007.
Crime used to be much lower.
The End of Affordability
Save Our Suburbs, 2007
Get this, they’ve put a stop to urban expansion in Australia. Australia, for heaven’s sake. Oh and it puts up house prices, and even manages to use up more energy. (Via From the Heartland)
Canadian woman gives birth to quadruplets at US hospital because there were no suitable beds in Canada.
Tim Blair, 18 August 2007
“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good...”
Yeah, I know he’s a bit of a whack-job nowadays but I think he was right on the money here.
“Guns don’t kill people, doctors kill people”
Something to Ponder, Theo Spark, 28 September 2007.
There’s a flaw in the logic somewhere. It’s just that I can’t spot it.
A dreadful age
Brian Micklethwait, 30 September 2007
The dreadfulness and precariousness (if that is a word) of life in the time of Shakespeare. Serves as a reminder (which increasingly seems necessary) that wealth and progress are good.
“This is Patrick. He sets up blogs at about the same rate other people write blog postings.”
Perry was only slightly exaggerating and every time I set up a new blog or site I find his words ringing in my ears.
This time it’s Patrick Crozier’s Libertarian Filing Cabinet which is causing the ringing. It is intended as a store of stuff that I think will prove useful at some later date. It will include things like libertarian writings, writings by libertarians, things of interest to libertarians along with cuttings, quotes and graphics.
Right now it’s a bit empty. It’s also not finished. Some of the panels are missing and some of the runners are a bit sticky. But bit by bit things like this can be overcome.
The Williams Sisters
Five Star (for those of you of a certain age)
All highly - almost unbelievably - successful. In each case their fathers have been heavily involved in their success.
Are there any other examples? Does Colin Powell, for instance, fall into this category?
Is this a black thing? I am struggling to bring to mind any whites who have had similar success let alone ones with a similarly influential father figure. [By the way, and before anyone points this out to me, I am aware that Lewis Hamilton is as white as he is black and that Woods is as Thai as he is black. It’s the ethnicity of the father I find interesting.]
Is it the only black thing? Can you be black and massively successful without an influential father?
Is it a Western Atlantic thing? I am struggling to think of any Africans who fall into this category.
Whatever the cause, for the time being it is enough to sit back enjoy a brilliant driver and (what appears to be) a smashing bloke continue to rewrite the record books.
What should we think about immigration? Whatever the answer may be, the West should make up its mind pronto - if Mark Steyn is to be believed things could get very nasty very quickly.
Let’s start with the existing system. The UK is the one I know something about but I suspect it’s not that different from those elsewhere in the West. If you are rich or European it is easy to live and work legally. If you’re not it’s not. Not that that stops people. There have been few news stories that have given me pause for thought but the deaths of 58 illegal Chinese immigrants in the back of truck at Dover was one of them. It made me wonder how many other trucks were getting through and marvel at the lengths people will go to live and work in this country. Conclusion: you can’t stop ‘em.
But then again why should you? Why should people be condemned to live in one place due to an accident of birth?
What if, when it came to immigration laws, we just scrapped the lot?
Oh, but we’d be flooded.
What does that actually mean? Lots of people would show up? Yeah, I guess lots of people would show up. So what?
Well they’d take all the jobs and they’d push up house prices and we’d all have to live in rabbit hutches and they’d demand free houses on the welfare state and exhaust the NHS and form ghettoes and vote in blocks and some of them would be terrorists and democracy would collapse. It would be like what it is now but worse.
Well, lets deal with the easy stuff first. I am a libertarian so in my ideal libertarian world there wouldn’t be any council housing, a welfare state or an NHS. So immigrants would not be able to sponge. There wouldn’t be any planning either so housing supply would be able to keep up with demand.
The idea that there is only a fixed number of jobs sounds awfully similar to the fixed quantity of wealth fallacy - which I ought to write something about some day. Suffice to say more people is better.
When it comes to ghettoes, I think there is a point here. But then we have ghettoes already. The assumption is that people want to stay. But it is not true. By and large people from the Third World - and just about everywhere else - want to earn money and leave. Of course, they want to go back. They can build a house of their own - something much more luxurious than what they could afford here - and beer and fags are much cheaper and they are surrounded by people they understand. And as for the weather… The only reason they stay is, paradoxically, the immigration laws. Immigration laws provide a massive incentive to stay because if you leave you lose your right to residency. So you stay until you qualify for citizenship. But then you want your children to have the same rights. So, you stay for even longer.
There will be ghettoes - probably rather nice ones - because people of a similar ilk like to congregate together. But my guess is that they’d be smaller than the ones we already have.
Terrorism. This is another article that needs to get written. But essentially, it will say that there is nothing particularly difficult about dealing with terrorism. The old treason law had a lot going for it.
The final problem is the one to do with voting. If the Welfare State is to be abolished then action has to be taken to ensure it doesn’t come back. But on the other hand there is a hell of a close correlation between democracy and freedom. The answer probably lies in either restricting the franchise to net tax payers or making the franchise tradeable.
They’re not alone in such squeamishness. According to Wikipedia, ITV edits the n-word out when it repeats the Dam Busters movie.
So Gibson was a racist then? As it happens he probably was - most people were in those days. But there are racists and there are racists. He was after all risking his life to destroy the most violently racist regime ever known - risks that eventually got him killed. There is a big difference between thinking that members of another race are inherently inferior - or just undesirable - and wishing their deaths.
But does his use of the n-word prove it - his racism, that is? That’s where things get trickier. You see I am not sure that at the time and the place it was an insult. Take some British English uses from about the same period. Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel Ten Little Niggers, for instance. Or a little vignette I once picked up from a documentary on black American soldiers in England in World War Two. They found that the natives at first and in all innocence referred to them as “niggers” - a usage that was dropped soon enough after the black servicemen let it be known that where they came from “nigger” was deeply offensive. I have found other uses in which the term has a neutral meaning, in much the same way that black (in British English, that is) has today. And I have found others where it implies pity but certainly not contempt.
According to Fowler, the afficionado of all things to do with English usage, writing in 1926, it could be an insult but only when applied to non-blacks. (Thinks: would I be insulted if called Chinese?)
Another aspect I find interesting is that there is no white equivalent. “Honky” just doesn’t cut it. Oh, I guess if I was being called “honky” half-a-dozen times a day in clearly hostile manner it might get to me. But ordinarily…
I wonder why that is? Is it because blacks allow it to be an insult? Is a reaction to this behind the naming of the band Niggaz with Attitude and the Samuel L Jackson character’s extraordinarily frequent use of the word in Jackie Brown - a bit like the way veterans of the BEF referred to themselves as the ”Old Contemptibles”?
When I first read in Michael Yon’s article some two weeks ago that a Challenger 2 tank had been blown up in Iraq I was sceptical. Surely it would have been mentioned on the news or at very least on the MoD website? But no. Coupled with a few other things in his report that didn’t ring true I assumed this was a typical bit of journalistic lilly gilding.
So imagine my surprise when it turned out that he was right all along.
The destruction of a Challenger 2 is big news. To the best of my knowledge it is the first British tank of any description to be put out of action in half a century. The new-found vulnerability of a vehicle with some of the most advanced armour in the world may - though I can’t be sure about this - I’d be surprised if it didn’t - have all sorts of implications for the way operations will in future be conducted.
So, why the delay? Did the MSM not know? Did they know but not understand the significance? Were they told to keep schtum? If so why - the BBC tells us that an Abrams goes skywards almost every other week? If they were told to keep schtum what else has this been applied to?
In other words, what else don’t we know?
There have been calls for the British government to apologize for the slave trade.
I think it is a crock but I still find the arguments interesting.
Norm thinks there should be an apology:
Simon Jenkins seems to have trouble with the idea of someone taking responsibility for actions of which they are not themselves guilty, particularly where this is on behalf of an organization or institution. But, as I argued here and here, it’s just because organizations and institutions are real entities - though this doesn’t mean they have metaphysical personalities, or could exist without the human persons that at any given time belong to them, act for them, and so on - that those in a position to speak on their behalf can make apology for wrongs of the past, where the organization or institution was responsible for these but the individuals actually making the apology aren’t. There is nothing mysterious about it.
It’s not as stupid as it sounds. There are precedents for this. For instance, who hasn’t heard something like this: “On behalf of South West Trains I would like to apologize for the late running of this service.”?
Medworth points out that there’s no one to apologize to.
Hannan reminds us that we are all descended from slaves. That should make for an interesting one: “I, Tony Blair, on behalf of the British government apologize to myself.”
Wat Tyler reckons that demands for an apology are being used as a wedge for reparations before going on to suggest that the slave trade wasn’t really worth that much.
Did you put your clocks forward today? Did you perhaps take your life in your hands as you mounted a rickety chair in order to retrieve that hard-to-reach electric number? Did you thumb through rarely consulted manuals in search of that seemingly magic sequence of key strokes that will allow you to once again record CSI? In doing so, did you teach your children some new words, words that they really oughtn’t to know? And do you have that haunting feeling that somehow, somewhere there’s one that you missed, a figurative time bomb with literal ticks, whose temporal eccentricity will do dreadful things to you at some unspecified date in the future?
Well, I thought about it and decided to give it a miss.
I’ve had enough of this biannual nonsense of knob twiddling, button pressing and showing up late for Sunday lunch. From now on, or until such time as I lose my job, I’m going to be sticking to good old Greenwich Mean Time, or, as I shall henceforth be calling it for the purposes of clarity: Patrick Mean Time.
If we really need to enjoy long, summer evenings then our employers will have every incentive to provide us with an effective pay rise by bringing normal working hours back by an hour.
But what we do not need is a law that has its origins in the need to increase munitions production during the Great War.
So, the CrozierWatch will keep its time as all those around it lose theirs and its owner will have the added benefit that should he ever find himself chronologically embarrassed over the next few months he can always blame it on PMT.
Looks like this is going to become my main means of blogging for the next few months. Oh well.
Islam is evil. As he points out, this is not the first time Brian has said this. He also points out that Christianity is equally nuts. The difference is that with Islam some of its followers take it seriously and do what they’re told. My take: Why? and does it matter, ie even if we knew why they were acting in such a stupid way would it make any difference to how we would deal with them?
Praise for the new Bond. I liked it too…
Freedom does not make you depressed. I get the feeling that that meme is going to turn out to be a hardy perennial.
Why do American academics hate America? asks VDH. More to the point why do American parents and alumni keep paying their wages? My guess is that it is because when it comes to employers, reputation (which relates to ability and contacts) counts for more than what is actually taught. (Hat tip: Pajamas Media)
Multi-culturalism doesn’t work. My worry is that the debate on the left will go like: “if multi-racial societies can’t work with all this state intervention then they can’t work at all.” (Hat tip: A&L Daily)
Hmm, haven’t blogged anything for a while. But I have been reading plenty. Here are some of my favourites:
Healthcare in the US. Specifically, the hassles involved in buying health insurance. Scrolling through the comments, abounding as they are with acronyms like HSA and HDHP it becomes abundantly clear that US healthcare is far from the free market that it is portrayed as on this side of the Atlantic. Which is, of course, half the problem.
How to improve democracy. The Olive Blogger thinks we should have lots more referendums. Perhaps this will encourage me to come up with some of my own thoughts on the matter. Or, maybe not. (Hat-tip Pajamas Media)
How I learned to stop worrying about the trade deficit. Don Boudreaux’s arguments will have a familiar ring to many but they’re well put. (Hat-tip Tom Palmer)
Do prostitutes need pimps? Seems with pimps they get more work and fewer beatings. They still get the beatings mind, just less of them.
How good is Wikipedia? For some time I’ve been happy to believe that it’s great on the done and dusted but when you get to controversial topics best to proceed with caution. But is the storage of hydrogen peroxide really so controversial? There’s a follow up.
Cash for honours. Except these gongs are for money wasted.
And finally, this is so cool, courtesy of the ever wonderful English Russia. The wooden skyscraper of Archangel.
Saturday I read about the theory that Litvinenko was killed by his own side. Sunday I watch a BBC documentary on the Diana conspiracy. Monday, I hear that a man has been denied entry to Iran for Holocaust denial denial.
Why do people believe this stuff? More to the point, why do they want to? Is it because they want to be initiated into some sort of secret society - those who know the truth - and thus feel special? Is it because they distrust their governments? This worries me because they simultaneously believe their governments to be all-powerful.
Is it just sheer boredom with being rich? a desire to smash up the system that underpins prosperity so that something more “interesting” can come along.
Is it because people have read too many Agatha Christie novels and got used to the idea that the answer is not the easy and obvious one right in front of your face?
I probably shouldn’t let it bother me - it’s just that I have an uneasy feeling about it.
Pinochet (seated). Definitely not a PR man’s dream.
[Just as an aside - why is it that the media persist in getting the guy’s name wrong? It is Pee-no-chet, not Pin-no-shay.]
Anyway, what name checks he’s got have tended to be rather negative. But should they be? Put yourself in his shoes in mid-1973. This, as I understand it, is the situation:
- the president is a communist.
- the economy is falling apart.
- your predecessor has been fired.
- there are stories of clandestine arms shipments from Cuba.
- Congress has declared Allende’s rule as unconstitutional.
In other words, it looks awfully like the end of not just democracy but of freedom itself. Under those circumstances don’t you have to act? Sure, the outcome may be far from a libertarian paradise but it’s going to be a damn sight better than the alternative.
Update 11/12/06 He’s dead now. Paul Marks has similar opinions to my own - just better informed ones.
We (libertarians) have all been there. Someone you know says something stupid, you pick them up and before you know it you’re in a shouting match. Now, you could just keep your counsel but that lets the argument go by default. And as Brian Micklethwait pointed out if you want to win the argument, first you have to have it. So, how do you stick to your guns without losing all your friends?
Here are a couple of approaches I try to take. Ask:
1. “What makes you think that?”
2. “What would change your mind?”
Question 1 is a goody because if repeated often enough it quickly exposes the weaknesses in your opponent’s argument without exposing the weaknesses in your own (not, of course, that there are any). Unfortunately, you don’t usually get that far - people have annoying habit of changing the subject but you can at least point this out to them.
Question 2 determines if they can change their mind. Because if they say “Nothing” you know it’s a faith and you can have some fun pointing that out to them. However, it is not without it’s dangers. You do have to apply it to yourself from time to time which can be an uncomfortable discipline.
Of course, in all these arguments you have to bear in mind that political beliefs are strongly held and rarely changed. And that people rarely change their minds unless they want to have them changed. All you can really ever do is plant some seeds of doubt.
Police have 8 million suspects.
Australian: What about the cricket then?
A: You know, the cricket.
H: Which one?
A: The one in Australia.
H: Why on earth should I be concerned about the well-being of a single, solitary Antipodean insect?
A: No, the game, mate.
H: What game? And I am not your mate.
A: The game of cricket.
H: I have no idea what you are talking about.
A: It’s in all the papers.
H: No, it isn’t. [Hands over newspaper]
A: [Scratching head] I don’t get it… You’re right… It’s not here.
H: [Relieved at successful national conspiracy to eradicate all knowledge of bat and ball games] Now, where’s my pint.
I was having a chat with some of my libertarian friends at the LA conference over the weekend. We were talking about Hayek and he said something along the lines of: “There’s always the suspicion with him that if socialism was any good at producing fridges and washing machines he would be a socialist.” The implication being that Hayek was wrong. (And, indeed, that that was what he believed).
I didn’t say so at the time (because my brain works far too slowly) but it occurs to me now that if tyranny was capable of producing the good things in life wouldn’t you have to support it? Because, even if you wanted to live in your wonderfully-free-but-poor part of the world you wouldn’t get the chance. If a tyranny is capable of churning out the fridges and washing machines you can sure as hell bet that it can churn out the tanks and fighter jets.
And it would just invade you. Bye, bye freedom.
Luckily this is not a conclusion I often have to draw. Usually, or so it seems to me, freedom and prosperity (in all its forms) go together. Indeed, almost every argument I make on InstaPatrick includes both a moral case and a practical case.
But what if the practical case is far from clear cut? - intellectual property and compulsory purchase - are a couple of examples that spring to mind. What if in these cases freedom was objectively worse than compulsion? I think even then I would support freedom partly because it works in so many other areas of life that we can afford to induldge it once in a while and partly because once you’ve started to let a little bit of coercion into the world you find that more follows.
But it’s worth bearing in mind.
What, exactly, are they making this cider from?
So it’s happened again. Not for the first time I have dreaded the return of Doctor Who only to be pleasantly surprised by the first episode. OK, so I spent most of the time hiding behind the sofa in fear of some victimist moralising but apart from one ugly moment we were largely spared. Otherwise, what we got was pretty good stuff.
- This would have made an excellent two-parter. There’s a lot of mileage in the idea of stem-cell research going too far. You could have had one of the stem-cell people (SCPs) escaping and all sorts of odd things going on with the hospital trying to recapture him. Actually, that was a general criticism of the first (new) season. A lot of good ideas were given far too short a shrift.
- Is it just me or was the Cassandra Rose preferable to the Rose Rose?
- How did the SCPs learn to walk, talk and think?
- Who thought it was a good idea to place the control that opens all the doors in a corridor and make it that easy to operate?
- And what was that last bit with Cassandra-Mick going back to see Younger Cassandra? Oh, I know, to tell her that she’s so beautiful so that she doesn’t turn into the self-obsessed megalomaniac she does turn into. But hang about, doesn’t this violate the “don’t change history” rule? Talking of which, aren’t all points in time somebody’s history?
- Liked the cat make-up. At least, I assume it was make-up.
- David Tennant is a fantastic doctor.
Update: Much more here. Oh, and the SCPs learnt to walk/talk etc by osmosis. Was it worth it?
This concept is called “customer service” and will one day be a normal part of daily life in China. At present, having to get up and walk three feet is considered a major inconvenience, but at some time in the future, in a dusty dungeon of an office piled high with learned and obscure manuscripts by long forgotten authors, a Chinese professor will write a paper which will enshrine his name forever in the annals of Chinese trade. He will put forward the hypothesis that a customer that goes to a place to transact business should be treated as an asset and not as a problem. He will suggest that people in the business actually help the customer. He will suggest that by making the customer happy, they will return and do more business. Only then, when it has been “invented” by the Chinese will customer service become something which the rest of the world can look to and attempt to emulate.He was only trying to pay his electricity bill.
In a posting from sometime ago and almost in passing Clive Davis reminds us of a fairly common argument:
How long was it before I overheard the standard comment that, you know, more Americans die on the roads in a year than perished in the towers? How long? A day or two. That’s all.
I find that line of reasoning so irritating. But I don’t know why. I am sure it’s a fallacy, a real whopper, but I can’t demolish it. The only thing I can think of is that the comparison being made is between something that was intended by human being ie the result of human wickedness and something that was the result of human error which is entirely normal. But I am not happy. I am missing something here.
I have rarely met a more obvious sign of a real estate bubble than when my [Shanghai] taxi driver explained that he owns four flats to speculate on increasing prices.
Johann Norberg before the Shanghai property crash.
Liberty 2005. From the floor:
Why should we do anything for posterity? Posterity has never done anything for us.
Disuss, as they say
Dom gets nostalgic:
In 1984, on a demo protesting the proposed abolition of student maintenance grants, I slung a chunk of paving slab through the window of a GLC building without even realising we were supposed to be on the same side. The fact that I was cheered for doing so rather suggested that my cluelessness was far from unique.
From Mugged by Reality
Via Clive Davies:
Among British progressives, who included so many opinion formers, writers and journalists, the ideological sentiment was overwhelmingly pro-American. Indeed, from the 1790s to the end of the 1860s, America was the favourite country of virtually all British intellectuals on the Left of the political spectrum, just as the Soviet Union was to be for Western intellectuals generally in the period 1918-45. Children of progressive parents were brought up to admire America.... Liberals like Byron were so enamored of the general system of government in the United States that, like the political pilgrims to Russia in the 1930s, they were prepared to overlook or justify shortcomings which, in any other context, they would have deplored.
Paul Johnson, The Birth of the Modern.
George Orwell, as Scott Burgess demonstrated this week, was a great writer. When he wrote he followed rules, the most important being:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These are not new to me. I first read them in 1990 in the introduction to the Economist Style Guide. Ever since I have tried my best to follow them. Sometimes I have succeeded.
The rules are found in this essay from 1945 (warning: reading someone pointing out that you can’t write hurts). What strikes me about Orwell’s writing is how up-to-date and clear it is. It is 60 years old and it still feels fresh. The rules work.
Update The above took me about an hour to write. Writing good English (and I am not claiming it is) is hard work.
Even at the time (and when I would chant Maggie, Maggie, Maggie: OUT! OUT! OUT! at the drop of a hat) I couldn’t understand the controversy over this one. There was a war on, the Belgrano was an enemy warship and it got torpedoed. End of story.
Norm doesn’t like Sudoku. He says there are only three possibilities:
1) You fill in the possible numbers for each square until the information you have enables you to eliminate, to narrow the possibilities, and this eventually and more or less smoothly leads to a successful completion.
2) Exactly as in 1), except that you get stuck somewhere; but not too badly stuck, so that a little reflection finds the breakthrough and you get there.
3) You get stuck permanently and after a while throw the thing away. It’s not very rewarding, not in any of the modes.
So, what’s the difference between this and any other puzzle (he says blissfully ignorant of mode 3)?
I always respect a politician who is strong in the face of Democracy. After all its far less risky than being strong in the face of Terrorism or Dictatorship.
on the reaction to the “non”.
Here he is on the great philosophers of our age:
Understandably unwilling to leave the great moral questions to rival Chris Martin of Coldplay (who, readers will remember, recently identified “shareholders” as “the greatest evil of the modern world"), fellow theologian/ethicist Thom Yorke of Radiohead ventures to disagree. Mr. Yorke maintains that ultimate evil is instead represented by “people denying that climate change exists,” as the Indy’s “5-Minute Interviewer” puts it (not online).
and here he is on the dangers of leftism:
For just as repeated and prolonged exposure to radiation in a physics lab can weaken and kill the body, so can the similarly toxic emanations of a cultural studies department pollute and ultimately destroy the mind, rendering it incapable of expressing ideas as intended - or, often, in a manner even comprehensible by those not similarly afflicted.
Squander Two gazes into his crystal ball:
And then the practical jokes would start. Some bright spark would hack the thing, changing the factory destination settings so that they could piss on chavs remotely.
Ah, but what technology is he thinking of?
I like old Jeremy Clarkson. He’s an unapologetic “bloke” just like many guys I know who make up the hard working backbone of this land. So what if we attempt to wear 10 year old jeans built for our ten years old waistline, like 1970s rock music, enjoy war films where the plucky Brits and some swarthy Greeks single handedly give battalions of bosch a right good licking, read tabloids, work 8 ‘till 4:30 and have fun whilst driving?
Mark Holland carries a torch for the Britbloke.
Whilst the future does indeed look grim and the chains around our ankles will get heavier, we have no other choice. Unless we are willing to fight for a future where we can be free to live our own lives, then we can be certain that it will never happen.
Our soapboxes may be tucked in the corners of the internet and our audiences may be small, we may be preaching to the converted, but we have no other choice.
Surrender is not an option.
Which rather put me in mind of Field Marshal Haig: “With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.”
Or, in rather less apocalyptic terms: “Keep on keeping on”.
It’s a good rule of thumb that anything 59 economists, bureaucrats or diplomats are prepared to sign an open letter objecting to is by definition a good thing.
Mark Steyn on the Bolton nomination. Britons of a certain age will remember a similar round robin signed by 365 economists condemning Margaret Thatcher’s reforms.
I know this probably isn’t the time and that I’ll probably get into trouble for saying this (as I have before) but am I the only person alive who thinks the Pope wasn’t that great? I am not saying he was that bad - certainly not - he appears to have believed in God which in my view is a good thing for senior clergy to believe in - but I really can’t go along with all this tosh about him bringing down the Soviet Empire (see here and here).
I find myself asking the question: what did he actually do? OK, so Popes don’t actually do that much at all, but they say a lot. So, what did he say? Well, I was 12 when he was elected and throughout the period of his papacy I’ve been a pretty keen student of current affairs and to tell you the truth I can’t remember a single thing he ever said apart from some perfectly decent words about sufferers from Downs Syndrome.
Maybe I’d missed something and being a protestant atheist that’s not entirely impossible. So, while channel-surfing earlier today I was interested to stumble on a BBC biog. Maybe, they’d have something. Well, they certainly made the same old claim but there was precious little evidence to back it up. Oh, something about “renewing this land [ie Poland]” but not much.
“Mr Gorbachev, tear down these walls...” it was not.
Mark Steyn in the Telegraph:
In practice, a culture that thinks Terri Schiavo’s life in Florida or the cleft-lipped baby’s in Herefordshire has no value winds up ascribing no value to life in general.
Is that true?
Blognor Regis has his list (Jacques Tati indeed) so I thought I’d produce one of my own. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be. Now a Bottom 10, now that would be easy: Napoleon, Johnny Halliday, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Richard I etc. But a Top 10? You’ve got to remember that Hergé, Plastic Bertrand and Hercule Poirot were all Belgian (and in one case, fictional). And Monica Bellucci, Italian. I also made it difficult for myself by not peeking at anyone else’s list. How could I have missed Catherine Deneuve? Fool, Crozier.
But I got there in the end:
Chares Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
General Joffre - anyone who can get through an entire world war without once missing out on his 8 hours sleep gets my vote
The Lumiere Brothers - without whom ”Come Play with Me” would never have been possible
The Eurotunnel Shareholders - lost their shirts so that we could load up on cheap booze and fags in comfort and speed
Whoever came up with the Citroën DS
Whoever came up with the Tour de France
Goscinny and Uderzo
Simon de Montfort - bit dodgy, owing to him being a complete psychopath, but did give us a Parliament.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
From the ”cutthroat world of Bavarian railway blogging”
After a tongue-lashing from Jackie, Tim Worstall comes to my rescue with the news that in the US florists are licenced and in California the state demands $800 just to set up a business - though California may be a special case.
Statism is bad everywhere.
Spare a thought for the word “liberal”. As Alex Singleton points out it is a term of abuse on both sides of the Atlantic. What other word can claim that dubious distinction? Alex reckons we should attempt to recapture it’s original meaning ie current French one. I always feel a bit uneasy about that though. According to Antoine (ie this one’s boyfriend) the original meaning of “liberal” was someone who was generous with his own money. Only recently has it come to mean someone who is generous with other people’s money.
From a comment on a Samizdata post:
“ The business of the American people is business” .......Calvin Coolidge
I’m beginning to like this Coolidge guy.
Update 01/02/05 Alex links to a post he wrote earlier (when Alex?) which in turn links to a von Mises Blog biog. But it leaves me with an uneasy feeling. If Coolidge was so good how come things went so bad so quickly (October 1929) after he had gone (March 1929)?
But it is critical that the accusation of anti-Semitism is used only in the clearest cut cases. Bandying it around when the evidence is weak is dangerously counter-productive. As the boy who cried wolf discovered, when it really matters, no one will listen.
Quite. But even he has reason to wonder.
Stephen Pollard doesn’t like modern uses of the word “genocide”:
...it means many things, each of them different, because the person using the word “genocide” redefines it to mean whatever he wants it to mean.
Meanwhile, Andrew takes issue with a couple of other words that have been getting a good airing this week:
Never again. Two little words that mean so little.
Mark Holland doesn’t like it:
The point is, what exactly is Holocaust Memorial Day actually for?
To make sure such a thing doesn’t happen again?
Well, we managed without one special day per year to contemplate such a thing and we succesfully resisted the urge for 56 years. (Peter Cook is a special case.)
Peter Cook (as his alter-ego, Derek) being the man who, having watched the Holocaust TV series, claimed to have taken the bus to Golders Green and killed 17,000 people before he knew what he was doing.
Tom Utley has certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest. He doesn’t like the government’s proposed citizenship ceremonies. The way he sees it being a subject has worked just fine up to now. Mark Holland and Tim Worstall are entrely in agreement but Squander Two begs to differ. He thinks unwritten constitutions are rubbish. Meanwhile David Conway thinks that oaths may be about to make a come-back.
Again via Commonsense and Wonder
Disagreements are inevitable whenever there are human beings but we seem to be in an era when the art of disagreeing is vanishing. That is a huge loss because out of disagreements have often come deeper understandings than either side had before confronting each other’s arguments.
Countless people in TV biogs and films
and now Prince Harry
The real question is who hasn’t? And am I alone in noticing how poor a Nazi Harry made? The shirt’s completely the wrong colour. The Wehrmacht rank flashes (I think) should never be worn with the armband. The swastika is at a very odd angle and is if that wasn’t enough he’s smoking a cigarette. Has the young prince no idea how much the original Nazis were down on tobacco?
Incidentally, watching this week’s Beeb doc on Aushwitz I had to keep reminding myself that the Nazis were in fact and on balance, taking all factors into consideration, a Bad Thing. That’s the problem with the Beeb these days: it’s so bad you instinctively take the other side.
Update. Actually, someone has already commented on the incongruity of the flashes and armband.
Update II. And Stephen Pollard reckons it’s going to lead to the abolition of the monarchy. Silly boy.
Update III. Adam Nicholson describes some of the things he got up to when he was 20. And who he did them with:
The people I did this with are now senior figures in the management of television channels, in accountancy firms, in the law, in City banks, in global institutions in America and in the Civil Service.
And lest we forget an earlier Prince Harry.
Update IV. And what about Spike Milligan (see comments)?
Seeing as some people are thinking about Candide right now here’s my Candide thought: Dr Pangloss was right.
Jackie on relationships:
...most people who think and say that they’re after a romantic partnership are really after a parent. They haven’t given up the desire to be parented the way they wish they had been as a child, and they look to their partners to do the things they wish their parents had done: praise them, love them, and meet their needs. As the therapist quoted in the article says, adults meet their own needs, they don’t look for someone else to do it. And when these people break up with their partners because they don’t meet all their needs and read their minds, they end up feeling like abandoned children.
She says this isn’t new but it’s new to me. And I think it’s right.
Jackie D has a go at answering the question: why are mothers so knackered these days? She thinks it because we (generally, not just mothers) are such a bunch of whiners. We are a bunch of whiners because we have had it so much easier than previous generations. Maybe. But, if ease of life leads to whining then, surely, the most whining would be heard in the US where life is easiest. In which case people would be even less keen on having children. But that's not the case as Mark Steyn never tires of pointing out. On the contrary, the demographic disaster areas are Western Europe and Japan.
Is it, perhaps, related to holiday time? Certainly, Europeans take an inordinate amount of time off by American standards. But the Japanese don't.
Are the US figures buoyed up by immigrants? If so, it does tend to suggest that, at a certain point, wealth is the enemy of procreation - something I really don't want to believe.
Parenthood is not a bundle of laughs:
Everyone I know who has children and is aged between 30 and 45 is knackered . . . all the time&8230;Not just a bit tired, not merely wanting a little lie down, but comprehensively, totally exhausted.
Says India Knight.
I’m sure our parents’ generation weren’t this exhausted. Certainly, they managed to do things my generation simply hasn’t the strength to do, such as go to the theatre or hold intelligent conversations after 11pm (the only people I know who can talk after 11pm are single, on drugs, or both).
Don’t change your name, says Digby Anderson
Talking of nice bridges…here’s one of Andy Wood’s favourites
Brian writes about the newly-opened Millau Viaduct.
Announcing the 1952 Committee - for all those who would have voted Tory but for their decision to back ID cards.
For what it's worth I gave up with the Tories shortly after the 1997 General Election. I realised then that we (libertarians) had so thoroughly lost the battle of ideas that there was no hope for a freedom-loving political party in the medium term. I’m very glad I did. Suddenly, I was able to just what I liked. Blogging has only helped this.
Update. It just occurs to me that way back in 1997 one of the attractions of voting Labour was that they were (sort of) against ID cards and the Tories (sort of) in favour. And who was the Home Secretary at the time?
Update II. Guido is none too pleased either:
Howard gave a speech in the City in February about his “British Dream”, it was trailed as his libertarian vision. When he said “the people should be big and the state should be small.... “ and to follow the British “...dream wherever it takes you.” He apparently meant you had to take your ID card with you.
Milton Friedman in the WSJ:
To summarize: After World War II, opinion was socialist while practice was free market; currently, opinion is free market while practice is heavily socialist. We have largely won the battle of ideas (though no such battle is ever won permanently); we have succeeded in stalling the progress of socialism, but we have not succeeded in reversing its course.
Via Peter Gordon
Update. It occurs to me that socialism is doing so well precisely because we have not won the battle of ideas. While we may have persuaded people that state ownership of (how shall we put it) commercial industries is a bad thing they are yet to be so convinced about regulation and state ownership of (largely) non-commercial industries such as health and education.
Mark Holland explains Britain’s historical success:
One of the reasons to be proud of Britain is because we’ve generally reacted to events as they’ve come along rather than laid out plans to obliterate the old order and create a new one.
Non-trivial Solutions is on a roll. Here he is on the Home Office’s latest bill:
‘A Home Office spokeswoman defended the bill, insisting it would not interfere with the right to free speech.’
Just as ID cards will not interfere with the right to privacy, jury-less trials will not interfere with the right to trial by jury, and detaining ‘terrorists’ without trial will not interfere with habeas corpus…
And eating my cake will not interefere with my ability to have it.