Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Darren on The good done by the Apple Newton
Darren on Don't judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
Michael Jennings on The good done by the Apple Newton
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Tatyana on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Katherine James on A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
Katherine James on 3D printed baby in the womb
Simon Gibbs on "In order to comply with Google's regulations ..."
Brian Micklethwait on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Friday Night Smoke on I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
Most recent entries
- Under Blackfriars Bridge
- Feline ephemera
- The good done by the Apple Newton
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
- The Met swoops on the Adams Family
- South Bank Architects?
- Colour photography
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Category archive: Propaganda
To the right of this image is to be found the following verbiage:
The reasons for why East London has seen the flowering of street art are manifold. The post-industrial legacy of Shoreditch’s crumbling low-rise warehouses, not only provides an environment in which the artists and designers can do their work, but East London’s proximity to the City of London provides an economic source of support for the artists and designers; and finally Shoreditch with its building sites, old dilapidated warehouses provides a canvas upon which those artists can display their work and increase their commercial value.
Mostly revolutionary chic to pay the rent, I’d say. Which, on balance, I quite like, because it gets up the noses of the real revolutionaries.
Plus it gets up the noses of the Art Twats by being understandable and entertaining without them having to explain what it means.
More East End street art here. In fact, lots more, if you scroll back through the archives there.
I have plenty more to say about Alex’s PR Masterclass, and may even get around to saying it, Real Soon Now. Meanwhile, here is my favourite snap that I snapped at the launch of the book last night, at the office of Adam Smith Institute:
If you hold a book launch for a book called “PR Masterclass”, that launch had better be packed out, or you look like a prune.
It was. He didn’t.
As my talk deadline (tomorrow evening) approaches, further insights keep rearranging themselves in my brain.
Not long ago, I read Alex Singleton’s new book (he will be speaking at my home on Friday 31st of this month) about how to do P(ublic) R(elations). (Not so long before reading that book, I read another book in which PR meant, throughout, P(hoto) R(econnaissance). How the world keeps changing (see below).)
I don’t recall any of the facts in this book of Alex’s about how to do PR being any sort of shattering revelation. Rather was the book a relentless drip-drip-drip of what is called “commonsense”, that is, of facts which might well be true, which would make sense if true, and which are, in the opinion of one who knows, actually true, as opposed to some other equally commonsensical notions about these or those circumstances, which, in the opinion of the same expert, are not true. Yet Alex telling me all the things he knows about how to do PR hardly begins to turn me into a PR expert, even though I am now at least passingly acquainted with every important principle, or even fact, that he has gathered up during his PR-ing over the last few years, and furthermore now know (or think I know) where to look to reacquaint myself with all these facts.
What distinguishes Alex from me as a PR-er is that he not only has his facts right, but that he also has them, as the saying goes, “at his fingertips”. That is, he knows how to deploy the pertinent fact at the pertinent time, again and again. He makes connections between his facts, and knows, from experience, which fact matters at which particular moment. He has his facts properly arranged and cross-referenced, inside his head. He knows his way around his facts. All I have is an ill-remembered list of facts.
Trying to “make sense” (as I now am) of digital photography is like that. I already know everything about digital photography that I need to know, pretty much, as (I’m guessing) do you. The problem is making sense of what I know, of putting it all together and relating this fact to that fact, in a way that is slightly interesting and surprising, yet also true.
I now find myself thinking about digital photography as part of that wider historical change known by labels like: the Information Revolution. The Information Revolution kicked off, I would say, on May 11th 1844, when the first message between two different cities (Washington and Baltimore) was sent by electric telegraph. It is intrinsic to digital photography that it is photography that can be communicated.
The effect of the Information Revolution has been to unleash a succession of changes in the texture of everyday life, with each successive decade being defined by whatever stage the Information Revolution happened to have arrived at at that particular passing moment. Photography is both an example of such a change, and the means of recording and remembering and celebrating such changes. Photography remembers things like tablets and iPhones, just as in earlier times it remembered and still remembers big mobile phones, antique microphones, dance crazes, the social structure of successive pop combos, fashions in costume and make-up, and so forth and so on. (Photography also remembers successive iterations of the Industrial Revolution, like trains, cars, airplanes and wars.)
Photography remembers, among many other things, itself. Digital photography remembers, among even more other things, itself.
Here is one of those memo-to-self but also memo-to-anyone-else-interested postings, about the next few speakers who have been fixed for the next few Brian’s Last Fridays. The last posting I did along these lines was useful, to me and to people I was emailing about these events, and so will this one be.
So, here are the next five speakers, who have been inked in:
Nov 29 - Marc Sidwell on The School of Freedom: Why Libertarians Should Care About Liberal Education.
Dec 27 – Antoine Clarke on Immigration and the Bad Arguments Against It.
Jan 31 – Alex Singleton on How Individual Individualists can influence the Media.
Feb 28 – Dominique Lazanski on Digital Freedom in the UK and Europe.
March 28 – Christian Michel on A Subject Yet To Be Determined.
Note the change of speaker next Friday. Dominique Lazanski can’t do Nov 29 so will be doing Feb 28 instead.
Also, I am doing a talk for Christian Michel on Jan 20. In this Samizdata posting about the talk, I previously had the date as February 20, but have now corrected this date, because February 20 is wrong. It’s January 20.
Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going? I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:
I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.
The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?
The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.
But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have. The “narrative approach” is their problem. What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill. This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this. That can’t work.
If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.
LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.
No. North Korea is not socialism betrayed. It is socialism done.
Which everyone here knows, but it is worth repeating.
Commenting on that, Perry de Havilland said:
That North Korea is ‘late socialism’ is a meme worth spreading.
Indeed it is.
Various people have been nagging me (a bit) about getting into Twitter, which things like this suit well. It reminds me (a bit) of when people got contemptuously angry (a bit) because I still didn’t have an email address.
One of the about seventy seven signs of aging is definitely being more sensitive to the weather, and in particular the cold. I remember feeling this way as a small child, when first compelled to travel every morning to school. Now, I feel it again. I actually “caught a chill” earlier this week, and had to take to my bed for a whole day.
However, I will soon be getting out from under the weather, if the next ten day weather forecast is anything to go by, which it is. As of today, it looked like that (see right).
Talking of short range weather forecasts, James Delingpole did a silly piece in the Daily Mail a while back, saying the Met Office is a total waste of space. But it is precisely because the Met Office’s short-range weather forecasts are generally so spot-on that its mad opinions about the weather in the more distant future are taken so seriously. If the short-range forecasts were as bad as so many unthinking idiots say, the Met Office wouldn’t be half such a menace on the C(atastrophic) A(nthropogenic) G(lobal) W(arming) front. This Delingpole article played right into the hands of CAGW-ers. Asked the News Statesman: Was there ANYTHING in James Delingpole’s Daily Mail piece which was true? Yes. The Met Office is bonkers about CAGW. But Delingpole’s attempts to prove that the Met Office never gets anything right were indeed ridiculous, and did the anti-CAGW team no favours at all.
But I digress. To more serious matters. There is another reason I am glad the weather is going to perk up soon, which is that rugby matches are far more entertaining when the weather is nicer.
The Six Nations began with what the commentators were all telling each other was one of the best Six Nations first weekends ever. All three games were full of tries. England won. Okay, only against Scotland, but they won, and actually Scotland are looking a bit better now, with some backs who can actually run fast. Ireland and Wales scored lots of tries against each other. Italy beat France. It doesn’t get much better for an England fan.
But then the weather turned nasty and the games turned attritional. England beat Ireland, but nobody scored any tries. England beat France, with one fortuitous England try which shouldn’t have been allowed. Italy reverted to being … Italy. The one truly entertaining thing about the next two weekends, after the entirely entertaining first weekend, is that now it’s England played 3 won 3 and France played 3 won ZERO! Arf arf. Sorry Antoine.
Talking of England v France, I’ve been reading (and watching the telly) about the 100 Years War. And it seems that towards the end, the French cheated by having guns. That explains a lot.
So anyway, no more 6N rugby until the weekend after next, and I really miss it, just as I did the weekend before last. The Six Nations takes seven weekends to get done, with weekends 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 being occupied with games, and weekends 3 and 5 being skipped. During weekends 3 and 5, I pine, and watch ancient rugby games, the way I never would normally, to fill the rugby gap.
The best ones I recently watched were two epic Wales wins against France, in 1999 (France 33 Wales 34) and 2001 (France 35 Wales 43), on VHS tapes. Sorry Antoine. But the next one I’ll be watching will be 2002 (Wales 33 France 37).
Ripple: me quoting Madsen Pirie, here.
Another ripple: the ASI quoting me, here.
The ASI seems happy, despite the delay.
LATER: Madsen Pirie quoting me, here.
While I was on that Waterloo Station upper deck, I espied a couple of adverts next to each other, put out by this organisation.
Here they are together:
And here they each are separately, for you to click on to get them well and truly readable:
Okay, I accept these challenges, and will respond.
The left hand one is a variant on the theme of “a billion people can’t be wrong”. Yes they can. Why has the Qur’an remained unchanged? There are any number of reasons why that would happen, other than what they are trying to say, which is that it is all true. Because it is an object of unthinking worship, rather than of serious study? (Remember that the memorising of it is often done by people who have no idea what they are saying, merely reproducing sounds.) Because people have been too scared to challenge it? Because Islam remains stuck in the seventh century, and unthinking bigotry is built into it?
Science, which the second advert seeks to argue was pre-echoed by the Qur’an, has changed over and over again. And this is a sign of science’s intellectual seriousness and intellectual vitality. Lack of change, century after century, signifies the opposite.
As for the claim of the Qur’an to be science before science, the real theory of the big bang is but the conceptual tip of an intellectual iceberg consisting of a ton of evidence and interpretation, and it is the latter that gives science its force. Science is not merely true. It explains why it is true. It argues about whether it is true. And consequently it gets ever more true. Islam is no truer now than it was thirteen centuries ago.
The good news here is that the claim that the Qur’an is as scientific as real science is a huge concession to the acknowledged intellectual superiority of science. “We have been right all along, and science proves it!” But if they really thought that the Qur’an was the last word on everything, they wouldn’t be dragging science in to back the claim up. Science would be ignored.
But they know that they cannot now ignore science. Science is a challenge they know they have to respond to. On account of it being so much truer and so much better at getting at more truth than the unchanging and unchangeable incantations that they are stuck with.
Yes, my Last Friday of the Month meetings are starting up again, with the first new one being on the 25th of this month. Speaker: Sam Bowman. Subject: libertarianism and “unknown unknowns”.
More about why the meetings, again, and about what Bowman will be saying in this Samizdata posting.
If interested, please get in touch, with an email, or with a comment here, or there.
At exactly the time when I started getting un-ill yesterday afternoon, but moments before I realised it, Michael Jennings rang to ask my opinion, about photos on Samizdata. Still believing myself to be ill, as perhaps I still was at that precise moment, I cut him short. Now, here is an answer.
My opinion is that photos, lightly sprinkled on a blog, send an important message to readers beyond the obvious one that here is a medal, or a strange toy airplane, or a funny media mistake, or whatever. That message is: this blog is something the people who do it care about. Shoving up text is the easiest thing in the world, but adding a photo requires a bit of pausing and considering. These people want their blog to catch your eye as well as your mind. They are putting themselves about a bit. Not only is this blog regularly updated, it looks regularly updated. Even if you don’t read this, others will.
But as those three links illustrate, there have been rather a lot of photos on Samizdata lately, and there is a danger that it will look like photos are being used as a substitute for thought rather than being a mere signifier of blogging seriousness. Besides which, the mystery of sticking up photos is hardly much of a mystery any more, is it? Most people know that sticking up photos is now as easy as sticking up words.
What Michael was asking about, before I told him I was ill and to postpone it, was, in particular, or so I surmise, photos like the one this sign, and like these ones of Samizdata jollification over Christmas. What do I think of those?
Well, they are clever. Notice how, if you narrow your window, to the point where the text rearranges itself to fit in a narrower column, the photo also narrows itself. Cute. Well, I’m impressed. I’m guessing that’s especially good for Samizdata accommodating itself onto smaller media like tablets and smart phones, which (commenters say) the new set-up does very well. These big new photos are also the result of Samizdata having become more tablet- and phone-friendly, because a tablet is where Michael has been doing them from?
The trouble is, however, that by making photos expand to fit the space available for their display, you risk (I think) making photos look like the point of the whole exercise. They cease to be mere seasoning, and become the meal. So, much as I like the expanding and contracting thing, I think that these potentially very big photos would be better if smaller, with the option to expand but not the routine habit of doing this.
Samizdata is all about concepts. It is about, as Perry de Havilland never tires of saying, the metacontext. For that you need words. Even if many of those words don’t get read or are only skimmed over, it needs to be clear that, at Samizdata, it is in the words that the real message is to be found.
Does that answer what was going to be your question, Michael?
At least the whispered question of a few months back, about whether Samizdata is dying, is now well and truly answered. No. (The comments on that posting now make even more interesting reading than they did when posted.) Perry de Havilland may not have written that much lately, but as a leader he remains very much in place and swinging. The makeover proves this.
Here, it doesn’t matter what I do about pictures. This is a kitten blog.
I am a godless supporter of gay marriage, but I do love this, not just because it says Don’t Vote Obama, but because it says it so eloquently. He is such a great speaker.
Proof that eloquent speaking straight to camera is more than good enough for the YouTube age.
Thanks, yet again, to Instapundit.
If I were a betting man, which I am not (or only in the form of blog postings like this one), I would bet that Obama is not just going to lose his forthcoming election, but lose it big. I am not that confident about what follows, which is why it goes here rather than here). It may be wishful thinking, but it is what I have been thinking, and I wanted to get it written down, so that later I can’t strengthen it in my mind if I am right, or blur it if I am wrong.
This guy also thinks this, as do others I have read saying it but have now forgotten the names of.
Of my immediate circle, Michael J has already commented, here, to the effect that he now sees no evidence of a landslide, and that Romney will probably win, but small. What do others of the sort inclined ever to comment at this tiny little ticking-over personal blog think about this?
My reasons are, in no particular order (this is only a tiny little ticking-over personal blog):
The polls are bent towards Obama, by Democrat intimidation. The Dems calculate that if they can persuade Repubs that Romney will lose, some Repubs will say what’s the use? - and stay home. Voters love a winner and are less likely to vote for a loser, or so I keep being told. No doubt this will diminish the Repub vote a bit, but not enough to make the polls an entirely self-fulfilling prophesy. They are still several percentage points out.
The polls are also out by personal inclination. Most of the people who work for these operations are Dems, because Dems are obsessed with politics, Repubs less so. Repub kids get proper jobs like lawn mowing or pool cleaning, or if grown-up, they get actual proper jobs doing regular round-the year stuff for serious money, and if not that is what they are trying to do. These Dem pollsters hear, even if they genuinely try not to, what they want to hear, not least because people tell them what people think they want to hear.
Polls have, in general, been getting ever more inaccurate, as people learn that they can say whatever they hell they like to pollsters, most definitely including nothing. Even the ones sincerely determined to resist pro-Dem bias are still biased thus, somewhat.
In particular, this time around, people still don’t know how to answer the accusation that being anti-Obama is racist. Which is why the Dems keep on using this accusation. People know it isn’t so, but are unpractised at making the necessary subtle distinctions. So, to avoid some presumably pro-Obama person even thinking they are racist, they either lie, or fluff, rather than speak their minds.
All of these polling distortion effects are quite slight, but each is enough to ruin a process where one or two per cent can make all the difference. But, crucially, almost all these effects now point in the same direction. That’s a big effect. I think the polls will be more wrong this time around than ever before.
The economy is not good, and Obama has no story about how to improve it.
In particular, the economy is horrible for young educated people, the ones who voted for Obama in their millions last time around. These people are pissed off, big time. Quite a lot will blame Obama, and will stay at home. Some, under the influence of cool libbo Ron Paul memes, may even switch to Romney. Many are ashamed of how they voted for Obama with such enthusiasm last time, and are not telling the pollsters about this. (See above: the polls are very wrong.)
Obama is pissing all over the Jews. This never works.
The bias of the mainstream media is becoming more obvious now, to a lot of American people. Last time, media bias went with the grain of American opinion, and the media have thus had eight uninterrupted years to degenerate into blatant propaganda operations, and the internet has had eight years to tell everyone that this is so. More than ever before, media bias is now believed in . Again, a matter of degree. But like I say, these degrees all add up. In particular, more now distrust those predictions of Obama victory, and will accordingly refuse to be influenced by them into not bothering to vote.
Romney is not nearly as big a jerk as a lot of disappointed Libbos and Conservatives seem to think, or as Dems hope. He keeps on winning. I think he will do much better in the debates than most others seem to, because he has a story to tell, to and about an opponent who does not. Romney is indeed not a genius debater, but he knows it, and knowing also that he is winning, he will prepare hard and go in with exactly the right amount of and kind of confidence, like a winning sportsman. He will surprise many by how well he does.
Meanwhile Obama, surrounded by yes men, and fatally arrogant, and tired, a fed-up and probably knowing he is going to lose, and having nothing to say, will not prepare well enough for the debates. He faces a near-impossible task, and will not be up to it.
The Dinesh D’Souza movie is hurting Obama, as will stuff like this (Arab money and support to pay for Obama’s career). Americans are now ready to be told what sort of man Obama really is, this time around. First time around, they just voted for the cool black guy, on the grounds that it was damn well time America had itself a cool black guy as President. This time, policies and opinions will count, along with the (very bad) record of the last four years. Obama’s policies and opinions are hurting and will continue to hurt him.
Romney is a cunning bastard politician. His campaign will not only consist of the damaging things about Obama that he himself says. He probably will stay fairly positive. But the negative stuff will get out there, like that Arab money thing.
Romney now has a ton more money than Obama has. Obama has spent most of his trying, and failing, to stay in the race. Romney is about to spend similar quantities drawing ahead.
At some point between now and the election, some who now want Obama to win and are still propagandising for him will realise that he will not win, and will say why, if only to keep their own credibility in place, a bit. They will want, as the saying goes, to keep (some of) their powder dry, in order to (e.g.) trash President Romney and all his works. Obama will respond to these betrayals not with a spirited public rebuttal, but with a resigned shrug, which also will not look good. (A public meltdown is probably too much to hope for, but I hope for it nevertheless.) How pronounced this effect will be is very debatable. Maybe very obvious, maybe almost undetectable, but it will, to some degree happen. Already, to a tiny degree, it is happening.
Well, that’s enough to be going on with. I just wanted to place my little bet, so that if it turns out right I can say: I told you so. But much of the above is guesswork, so, Americans (especially Americans but also all others), please feel free to tell me I am wrong.
And then, we’ll see.
None of the above says that I think that this is the most important political battle in the world right now. Its only major importance would be if Obama were to win. But when (I think) Romney wins, the big questions will remain. How bad are things going to get? How unbadly can President Romney be persuaded to handle them?
For me, the big hero of all this is absolutely not Romney, or even Paul Ryan. It is the collective hero that is the Tea Party.
This is such an important issue. Regular punters owning guns in America controls crime in America, except where idiot politicians forbid this.
But irregular punters, libertarians, not just having weapons but being downright enthusiastic about them. This will defend Libertaria, once someone finally gets it going, somewhere in the world.
Lots of libertarians think “defence” is a difficult issue. No. Just allow anyone who wants to do it to do it. The enemy are a bunch of wankers who don’t think they should be allowed to wield weapons. No contest. As for the armies these people think they command, our job will be to get our spies in among them, and stop them doing anything.
Building railways in built-up areas, organising drains, controlling infectious diseases; Things like that will be far harder to sort out.
By the way, I like the word “Libertaria”, to describe the place when Libertarianism first kicks off in a big way. I have been in the habit of calling this mythical land the “libertarian utopia”. But “utopia” is a word with baggage attached, a lot of it very bad. “Libertaria” dodges all such stuff.
I just attached this comment to a Samizdata posting about Bjorn Lomborg. I don’t want to forget about it, so it also goes here.
My prejudice about Lomborg (which is why I have not studied his thoughts in much depth) is that he doesn’t understand the argument he says he is in.
In particular, he doesn’t grasp that the essence of the Climate argument concerns whether or not there is going to be a Climate Catastrophe. If there is, then all Lomborg’s chat about merely improving the lives of the poor is just fiddling while Rome awaits incineration.
But if the evidence for a forthcoming catastrophe is no better now than at any other time during human history, then Lomborg’s arguments make sense, as do all other arguments about merely improving things. Economics, business, capitalism, etc. all make sense, and there is no excuse for global collectivism, because it only makes things worse. The only excuse for global collectivism is in preventing a global catastrophe that is otherwise unpreventable.
Which is why the global catastrophe was fabricated. The whole point of the Catastrophic bit in Catastrophic AGW is to render economics, business, capitalism etc (Lomborgism you might say), pointless.
And Lomborg has spent his life ignoring that bit of the argument, that bit being the bit that matters by far the most.
As it happens, the Catastrophists are now losing (on the science), which is why they are switching back to gibbering on about “sustainability”, or even more ridiculously, shortages of this or that. In short, they are moving back to the territory where Lomborg and all the rest of us will defeat them with ease, again. But Lomborg himself has contributed nothing to this intellectual victory. He has merely confused things somewhat, by implying that this is all about regular economics. It is not. It is about whether regular economics now applies to the world, or not.
I would be interested to know if commenters who know Lomborg’s writings better than I do think that these are accurate prejudices.