Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.


Recent Comments

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries


Advanced Search

Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Transport Blog


2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
diamond geezer
Dizzy Thinks
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
Gaping Void
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Idiot Toys
India Uncut
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Publius Pundit
Rachel Lucas
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Mainstream Media

The Sun
This is London


RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0


Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Career counselling
Cats and kittens
Civil liberties
Classical music
Computer graphics
Current events
Digital photographers
Emmanuel Todd
Expression Engine
Food and drink
Getting old
How the mind works
Intellectual property
Kevin Dowd
Latin America
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Other creatures
Pop music
Quote unquote
Roof clutter
Science fiction
Signs and notices
Social Media
South America
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
This blog

Saturday October 31 2009

This afternoon, I got Antoine Clarke to tell me about Social Media, which to me means Facebook and Twitter, although of course there’s more involved than just those big two.  If you would also like to learn more about this phenomenon of our time, what it is, what impact it is having (and not just on narrowly party-political-type politics) then have a listen.  Duration: just over 45 minutes.

Of particular interest to libertarians like me, I think, is what Antoine said near the end (starting just after the 35 minute mark) about Ian Geldard, who is, says Antoine, the biggest spreader of libertarian ideas in the UK.  Given that we had just finished talking about Guido Fawkes, this is high praise indeed.

Friday October 30 2009

Some Friday cats, photoed by David Farrer of Freedom and Whisky fame, in Sevastopol:


I especially like the snaps David recently took in Istambul, especially this one.  I do love this building, even if from some angles it looks like a Star Wars soldier.  Detail:


More DF holiday snaps, listed by place, easily accessible here.  Like the first commenter says, wonderful.

Thursday October 29 2009

On Saturday afternooon I am having a recorded conversation with Antoine Clarke, about Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Lynn Sislo often quotes me approvingly (most recently here), so I like to reciprocate from time to time.  Here is her Twitter page, where we find this:

Unfortunately it doesn’t help us get our work done so I guess we’re all going to be a bunch of worthless geniuses.

And what does this mean?

100% chance of rain today = 99% chance I will lose my Internet connection for several hours. I hate Wildblue.

Wildblue?  This presumably.

And this is very true:

Most comments I’ve had all year. You never can tell what people are going to find interesting.

Although, I don’t think “interesting” is quite the right word to describe the phenomenon of lots of comments.  I think it’s a matter of chancing upon a subject which people have already thought about and have developed opinions about, and here, suddenly, for the first time, they have somewhere to put those opinions.  I mean, where, in the normal course of things, can you present your hitherto private thoughts about suburban chickens to a group of suburban-chicken-minded persons?

On the other hand, I am routinely fascinated by blog postings which I would not think of commenting on, because my opinion, such as it is, has already been said, better.

Plus, I think it helps if the subject is not political or religious and will not consequently get you mobbed by psychopaths.  Much of the pleasure of these big comment threads is that nobody really cares.  It’s like the way men talk at enormous length about sport, in order to avoid having to talk about serious things that they truly care about and can be hurt about when they put half of one word out of place.

Assembling Twitterings into blog postings is like those equally pointless books they used to do about five years ago, full of blog postings.

So what will be the effect upon Western Civilisation of Twitter?

I like to think that it might render obsolete that thing about how a lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its outdoor shoes on.  Twitter enables the truth to catch up with officially sponsored lies more quickly.  Like regular blogging, in other words, only more so.

Tuesday October 27 2009

About one hour ago, I did a recorded conversation with Paul Marks, and there it is, which for me is pretty quick.  Paul Marks is one of the Samizdata writers.

image Our two main topics were: the financial chaos we’re all now enduring, and the evil (as in Marxist) nastiness of President Barack Obama, and the fact that with varying degrees of I-told-you-so-ness, he told us so.  But as I said at the beginning, the real aim of the thing is to tell all those to whom “Paul Marks” is but a name, but who would like to know more, more.  All such persons will now be able to hear the voice behind that name.  And on the right there is a picture, which I took just minutes ago.  An odd thing I’d never noticed before.  Were thePaul’s face to be a little bit elongated vertically, I think you would then have: the film actor Bill Murray.

It went well, I think.  Nor did it go on too long, by which I mean for more than half an hour.  After all, it doesn’t take long to get how someone talks and how to think about things.  Also, Paul proved to be fluent enough, I judged, to require no editing whatsoever, which makes things a hell of a lot easier.

Technically, it may be a bit loud.  If that is the case, sorry.  I am still not on top of the podcasting process, despite having done quite a lot now.  Further technical advice from my various techie friends is still, alas, needed.

Monday October 26 2009

Moaning about the sports that other people like but which you don’t is as futile an activity as it is possible to indulge in, but sometimes it is done quite well and becomes a bit like a sport in its own right.

Jackart last Thursday:

… There is no set piece in League. There are no 7ft beanpoles, no whippet-like wingers or terriers wearing no 9. There are no human wrecking balls shaped like strategically shaved beasts of burden wearing 1,2 or 3. In short unless you’re average height, stocky and fast, there’s no place for you on a League team.

League consists of 13 flankers running into each other four times, falling over then fucking the floor, before the ball is booted down field. The mystery of the scrum, the skills of the line-out and the competition of the contact to recycle the ball are completely missing from the game. Rugby league is like Rugby Union tackling practice. True they share the shape of the ball, and the fact the ball is passed backwards but that’s it. ...

Jackart wrote about league versus union because Gordon Brown was recently asked about which he preferred, and, surprise surprise, dithered.

Saying they’re starting to look the same will piss acolytes of both codes off. And the key electoral battlegrounds of the Midlands will have their opinion of Gordon Brown as a pathetic ditherer who even thinks of sport in terms of electoral triangulation, but lacks Blair’s talent for hiding it, confirmed.

Gordon Brown is pathetic.

Indeed he is.  But I can’t say I mind him saying that the two rugbys (rugbies?) are getting more similar.  I reckon it’s somewhat true.  If league is thirteen flankers running into each other, you could say also that union is becoming more and more like fifteen second-row-forwards doing the same.  Have you seen the size of some of the union wing-three-quarters nowadays?  There’s a bloke called Banahan who is just huge.  And fast.  Time was when Jonah Lomu was, in the words of the overwhelmed and bewildered England captain Will Carling, a “freak”.  Now, every second union back is such a freak.  My friend Bruce the Real Photographer says they need to make union pitches bigger, to give room for the little guys to run round the big guys, instead of them just having to run into them time after time, league style.

Apart from rugby union, my other preferred sport is cricket.  Like rugby union, cricket still allows quite a variety of physical types, especially among the bowlers.  But the batters seem to be getting beefier and using bigger bats.  So, a bit like rugby union in that way.

I have for some time now been working on a huge and unwieldy essay about the state of cricket, which only Michael Jennings will read.  Cricket is on the up and up, basically because of all the Indian money now being poured into it.  Over the weekend, I heard Antoine Clarke (who speaks fluent French on account of having a French parent) saying that he likes to tell Americans that “There are more cricket fans in India than there are people in Europe”, which I swear he got from me and Michael J.

And whereas cricket will probably successfully avoid any schism between the very short version (Twenty20) and the very long version (five days tests), there has been a ferocious cricket schism in the USA, between the Asians and the West Indians.  But now a fat white bloke is trying to set up a Twenty20 league along the lines of the Indian Premier League, the idea being that Indians in their millions will watch that on their tellies, just like they watched the IPL earlier this year even when it was held in South Africa instead of India for security reasons.  If that works, then the USA schism may well end, which will be another huge boost for cricket.

Another is that Twenty20 seems to be reinvigorating West Indian cricket, with Trinidad & Tobago playing superbly in the recent Champions League (the world provincial team championship in other words), only losing to New South Wales in the final.  But for more about that, await my Big Essay, although as usual I promise nothing.

Sunday October 25 2009

At least half the point of conferences like this annual LA/LI gathering that I’m now at, is meeting the other attenders, and as if to prove this fact, I now realise that one of the most interesting things I heard on day one of this conferenc yesterday was told to me not by any of the official speakers, but by a bunch of Poles with whom I shared a table at the evening dinner.

At first, the conversation was the usual banter.  I visited Warsaw in 1984, under circumstances that were a mixture, for me, of comical and humiliating, and I got a few laughs with that.  The Poles responded with lots more jokes, with the mere memory of Communism still serving as a rich source of comedy.

But then the conversation got more serious.  I recently read - I don’t recall where – some stuff about Polish anti-Semitism, and, I forget how or what precise connection, I cautiously asked about that.  In response, I was told about the following set of highly unusual historical circumstances.

Before the Second World War, there were many Jews living in Poland, not least because in the past, the treatment of Jews in Poland was better than it was in quite a few other European countries.  And, the Jews of those times being the Jews of those times (i.e., arguably, the most talented and industrious group of super-high-achievers in the entire history of the human species), the Jews of Poland excelled at just about everything.  Politics all across the spectrum, the media, business, science, the arts, the works.  And there were, of course, a quite large number of high-profile Jewish Communists.

For reasons that, it so happens, were not explain but which are not hard to guess about, a quite large number of Communists were expelled from Poland just before the start of the Second World War, including all those Jewish Communists.  These Communists went to Russia.

Then, the Second World War.  To cut a long and horrible story very short, the Nazis then murdered all the remaining Jews in Poland

After the Second World War, Communism was imposed by the USSR upon Poland, and to do the imposing, all those Communists who had taken refuge in Russia returned, including many Jews.

So it was that during the decade following the Second World War, the people of Poland only had one direct experience of Jews.  Basically, all the Jews they had any dealings with were Communist Bastards, active imposers of Communism, on behalf of the USSR, upon the people of Poland.  In 1958 (or around then – that date may be a bit wrong) there was a purge, and the Jewish Communists were again expelled, this time most of them going West, including quite a few to Britain.

After that, very few Jews lived in Poland.  Which meant that the only direct experience of Jews that the Polish people have had since has remained the memory of those Communist Bastards.

Not all Communist Bastards were Jews.  But an appallingly high proportion of Polish Jews were Communist Bastards.

In such circumstances anti-semitism makes quite a lot of sense.  It is still not nice.  But, it is thoroughly understandable.

Is that story, as I have just told it, very approximately, correct?  My Polish acquaintances themselves emphasised that they were simplifying an inevitably quite complicated story - not all the Communist Jews were expelled, not all the non-Communist Jews who remained were murdered by the Nazis, and so on.  But as a first approximation, so to speak, is the above historical sketch broadly accurate?

Is it true that before the Second World War, Polish anti-Semitism was (a) not that virulent and (b) less virulent than it subsequently became?

I’ve now done a bit of googling, and here is something relevant.  Polish anti-Semitism in the early twentieth century was quite bad, it says.  And re the connection between post-WW2 Communism and Jewishness, there is this:

Polish nationalists opposed to the 4 decades of Communist rule identified their oppressors as being of Jewish origin. Some Communist leaders had been of Jewish background but the stereotype belied statistics. And the Communist leaders of Jewish heritage had rejected their Jewish identity. Then in 1968 the Communist government expelled the majority of the Jews who had remained in Poland, some 20,000 people.

Right away there, we see that the Nazis did not murder all the Jews.  But 20,000 does indeed not sound like very many compared to how many Jews there were in Poland before WW2.  But the expulsion of Communists before the war to Russia, and the subsequent prominence of Jewish Communist, compared to other prominent sorts of Jews, is not mentioned.  If my Polish history teachers last night were approximately right, that seems a significant omission.

Saturday October 24 2009

Well, here I am at the Libertarian Alliance conference and already my day has been a success.  Somebody brought their son, and Son reads my blog, and when I brought out my current netbook computer, Son said: “Is that Jesus?" (Jesus was the name of my previous micro-computer.  Asus = Jesus, ho ho.) No, I replied, this is Judas.  Judas being the Jesus replacement.  Then, the moment of inspiration.  “Would you like Jesus?” Well, you never know if you don’t ask.  And guess what!  “Yes!” replied Son.  Score.  The logical thing to do with Jesus was sell him on e-Bay, but I am a twentieth century boy and I can’t be doing with e-Bay.  Father and Son are kipping down on my floor tonight, and we can seal the deal then.  Result.  I was pretty much resigned to chucking Jesus away, and then two years later reading about what a valuable antique he had become.

Apart from that highpoint, the speakers were all quite good.  Chris Mounsey, of the UKLP LPUK, was - I’m guessing deliberately - very downbeat.  The thing is, if you roam the earth giving rousing speeches in favour of something, all about what you want people to do, and how wonderful things will be if they do it, two things can go wrong.  One, they don’t to do what you want (in this case join the LPUK), which can make you look and feel rather foolish.  Two, they join, but in a state of manic enthusiasm, and a year later, when nothing good of any consequence has happened because of them joining, they hate you, for getting their hopes up.  The LPUK, said Mounsey, is settling down for the long haul.  In ten years time it might accomplish something, but then again it might not.  Very wise.

Friday October 23 2009

Susan Hill writes, in connection with celebrity authors, or to more exact in connection with the opposite kind, this:

… in the last few years it has become very common for good novels to sell under 100 copies.

If I ever try to write a novel, (a) shoot me, and (b) I’ll just give it away on the www, probably as a series of blog postings, probably here.  And if a hundred people read it, I’d probably rate that a success.

If you want thousands to read your novel, then surely getting a few hundred to like it to start with, who are in a position to recommend it to others without those others having to pay anything, to the point where people who like to read their books in book form (assuming there remain any such people after you’ve written your novel) hear about your novel, from quite a lot of people who liked it, would seem like an obvious first step.  In short, try to become a mini-celebrity novelist.

If you want to make money as a novel-writer, then here is my career advice: get a job, and write in your spare time, following the above plan (i.e. buying the above quite cheap literary lottery ticket).  That way, you will make money as a novelist, although I agree not in the way you may have meant.  Make that: make money and be a novelist.  (When I career counsel, I often suggest that.  It makes a change from “find a job doing what you love”, which is often disastrous, not least because there is no rule that says you will be any good or any use to anyone else doing what you love.  Worse, you may just end up hating what you used to love.  Often “keep your work and what you love separate” proves to be the catalytic suggestion which sorts everything out a treat.)

Or, instead of writing a “good novel”, you could try writing the kind of story people in their thousands like to read, like a crime story with plausibly virtuous policemen and implausibly villainous villains.

Thursday October 22 2009

Newspaper corrections are a rich source of lol-ness, are they not?  (I nearly put sauce there, instead of source.) I still treasure a pretend one that Beachcomber did many decades ago: “In our article about milk productivity, for horses read cows throughout.” There was no article about milk productivity.  That was a joke.  This, it would seem, was real:

A headline on an item in the Feb. 5 edition of the Enquirer-Bulletin incorrectly stated “Stolen groceries.” It should have read “Homicide.”

Ain’t the www grand?  Yes it is, because here are some more lolificatory newspaper corrections, of which this is fairly typical:

Apology: I originally wrote, “Woodrow Wilson’s wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House.” I’m sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word “sheep.”

The mainstream media, eh?  All those layers of fact checking ...  Still, at least these are corrections, rather than just blunders left untouched in all their idiotic glory.

This one is especially piquant, I think you will agree:

In one edition of today’s Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley’s Southwestern chicken salad recipe. The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.

I don’t care for hot food, except in the sense of temperature, and even when it comes to regular temperature, I can manage less of that than most seem able to.  Two jalapeno peppers would probably have been far too strong for me.  What twenty one jalapeno peppers in one dish would do to my poor defenceless mouth, were I to sample the dish even a tiny bit, is something I dare not even speculate about.  Even as I type, my mouth is awash with defensive saliva at the mere thought of it.

imageIt seems, according to this, that the nasty man who shouted at a nice old man, on the tube, whom I wrote about and lots of other people wrote about last week, has previous in the being nasty to The Public department.  If that’s true, then I agree with the www mob.  He should indeed be relieved of his current responsibilities.

However, what I would also like would be if he (his name is Ian Morbin) were to start a blog full of reminiscences about The Public and how amazingly stupid they can sometimes be, and what an ordeal it is trying to keep your temper when you are trying to sort out their various self-inflicted muddles and chaoses.

With lots of swearing.

In among the abuse, there might be quite a few interestingly sympathetic comments from others who also have to work with The Public.

Wednesday October 21 2009

Another flat picture opportunity:


The original that this is rotated and sliced from is one of these, via here.

Says commenter sk60:

Awesome. Long live Cassini.

Amen.  Many things about life now are depressing.  What cameras now enable us to see and enjoy is not depressing.

Tuesday October 20 2009

Some while ago, I seem to recall doing a blog posting, way back, about how gays lead where others follow.  Something like: gays, girls, industry.  That being the way a new guy star catches on.  Yes, it was the young boyfriend - “Smith” - of the one who liked sex the most, who worked in PR or some such thing, and wanted Smith’s career to take off.  And it did.  Gays first, then girls, finally the entire industry, i.e. entertainment industry.  Pause while I dig up the link to that posting.  Ah, no wonder it took a while, it was in one of my blog ruins.  But you can still read it.

imageSo anyway, here’s a new take on the same notion, that I heard earlier this evening on the telly.  The following analysis was offered, in episode 10 series 2, of one of my favourite telly shows just now, How I Met Your Mother, by my favourite character in the show, Barney Stinson.  Barney’s gay brother is getting married, and Barney, self-proclaimed batchelor and womaniser extraordinaire, is not happy.  Marriage-wise, he says, things are about to go totally pear-shaped:

OK, here’s my thing - if gay guys start getting married, then suddenly the whole world’s gonna be doing it. That’s how it works: they start something, then six months later, everyone follows. ... Gay marriage is going to cause single life as we know it to die out.  Think of how the American family will be strengthened!

A superbly right-wing way to argue for gay marriage, don’t you think?  It will strengthen regular family life.  And I reckon it just might at that.

I recall reading somewhere that the actor who plays Barney is himself gay, unlike his character in HIMYM.  It’s called: acting.  I mention that only to stop commenters telling me like they think I didn’t already know.

Monday October 19 2009

Samizdata supremo Perry de Havilland does love hippos (and see also this recent hippo reference - penultimate paragraph).  So much so that he collects them, as any visitor to Chateau Perry will immediately notice.  Any size, any material.  Wood, ivory, china, plastic, photos, paintings, birthday cards, anything short of actually having a live one chomping about in his back garden, which he would surely do if he could without constant fighting, and if there was room for a pond.

Thus it is that, like many of Perry’s friends, I am constantly on the look out for hippos for him, and they are actually not that common.  Many is the shop, bursting with persuasively priced cows, pigs, cats, dogs, elephants, giraffes, antelopes, frogs, birds, etc. etc. which has not one hippo in it of any kind.

So it was with great pleasure that I spotted, in among the usual other (and similarly decorated) beasts (decorated cows, decorated pigs, decorated cats, etc. etc.) in Bentalls Kingston, this:


Click to get that twice as big.  I’ve photoshop(clone)d that, as best I know how, on account of it being rather blurry to start with, because of thick and somewhat reflective glass between me and the hippo.  Perry, if you’re reading this and you’d like the original big but undoctored photo, 3264x2448, I can email it.

I also photoed the price tag.  When I showed Perry the photo I didn’t want him moaning about why I didn’t buy it for him.  Instead I got him a hippo shaped bath cushion that I had earlier found in Primark, price £3.  But I forgot to photo that before handing it over, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

Anyone know what country these fancily decorated animals come from?  India perhaps?  The Midlands?  I should have asked.

Sunday October 18 2009

I see that Prodicus agrees with me about the LibDems:

LibDems are notorious for saying whatever they think they ought to say to please each ad hoc audience and to hell with having said the opposite to a different audience, probably in the adjacent constituency, yesterday.

As long as they see a chance of getting their grubby hands on a little piece of whatever power is going ... Westminster, EU, change the voting system to get it, whatever ... the LibDems are in favour of it. The principle-free political party.

Apparently vanilla, portraying themselves as the Quakers (sorry, Friends) of British politics, nice to everyone (of course), pro-motherhood, pro-apple pie and ‘A vote for us is a vote against Horrid People’, the LibDems are in fact, as anyone will tell you who has come up against them in election campaigns, the most unscrupulous, dishonest, calculating, lying, vicious, character-assassin, shape-shifter hypocrites on the modern British political landscape.

I give that three out of three.  Paragraph one: they say to each voter what that voter wants to believe that they all believe.  Paragraph two: they want power.  The solution to all the world’s problems is for them to boss it about.  Paragraph three: although many voters still think the LibDems are nice, there are in fact no depths they won’t sink to in their dealings with rival politicians, in their quest for power.  They were shits long before New Labour turned that into a national policy.  About thirty years ago, I did a bit of canvassing for the Conservatives, until I found out how to be a proper libertarian.  The Conservatives and Labourites disagreed with but respected one another.  Both despised and detested the LibDems with a vehemence that was distinct and different and far more intense than they felt towards each other, for precisely the reasons referred to in Prodicus’s paragraph three.

The LibDems ought to be doing brilliantly now.  The Labour government is hated and doomed.  The regular Conservative opposition knows that horrible things will have to be done, but is suavely, repellently, reluctant to say what, or worse, even if they’ll do the necessary.  Cameron is just so bloody Eton and Oxford.  You just know that at the end of whatever “cures” he unleashes, or not as the case may be, the bloody Etonians and Oxonians will be riding high, while even Marlburians like me are floundering in the mud they have poured over everybody except themselves, let alone regularly educated, regularly working people.  And if that proves unfair to Cameron, that is surely why people are now as reluctant to be enthusiastic about him as they might be.  We greet the forthcoming Cameron regime not with enthusiasm, but with a resigned shrug.  Labour must go, so ... sigh ... Cameron it must be.

Or must it?  What of the LibDems?  This should the LibDem hour.  Yet, it is not.  Could it be that not only Prodicus thinks what he thinks, and I think what Prodicus thinks, but that about half of Britain and rising by the day now thinks this too?  The LibDems should be storming towards power, but their only voters are terminally ignorant and stupid and dying, and the rest of us are damned if we will ever replace them.  We’d rather vote for the Monster Raving Loony party.

How the LibDems must hate the internet!  The internet is that great beast in the sky that compares what LibDem A says with what LibDem B says, and spots the cavernous gap.  Worse, it compares what LibDem A says with what LibDem A says.  Voters may not notice, or even care, but the internet remembers and reminds.  If a LibDem is a Welfare Statist on Tuesday and a rabid tax cutter on Friday, it notices and it reports.  The LibDems do not deny it.  They cannot.  If a LibDem does deny it, then the beast in the sky says: ah, and who might you be?  And what, pray, have you been saying on your Tuesdays and your Fridays?

In the good old days, whenever anyone said that the LibDems were shits, the LibDems would reply: oh you’re just a Conservative, you’re just Labour, you’re the shit.  Which was often true and usually very plausible.  But the internet is Everybody.  Calling Everybody a shit just makes it that much clearer what a stupid shit you are yourself.

We all, no matter what our opinions might be, have friends or friends of friends who are in the LibDems, whom we are prepared to treat in a “present company excepted” way, and be polite to.  If they are merely using the great echo chamber of all opinions that is the LibDem party to spread our particular opinions, then okay, that’s excusable.  Stupid, but not actually evil.  But to the precise degree that we suspect these persons of taking their membership of the LibDems seriously, to the degree that we suspect them of actually believing that the way for Our Opinions to triumph is for Our Opinions to take over the LibDems and Sweep To Power (with guess who? in charge) to that degree do we detest and despise them.

Friday October 16 2009

From Counting Cats in Zanzibar:

Anyway, back to the shop.

One of the other customers made a joking and slightly derogatory comment about greenies, and then said, “but we aren’t meant to say things like that”.

You think I let an opportunity like that pass? If you do you don’t know me at all. I said “Of course you can. I loath the greens, bloody ecofascist wankers”.

There were six people present, all strangers to one another, and each one of them grinned, laughed, or nodded their head happily. For a couple of minutes I was the most popular person in the shop.

We really have a lot of support out there, it is just hidden by too much “but we aren’t meant to say things like that”.

Another straw in the wind, to add to the bales of hay linked to at the end of this.

This being Friday, and what with all the environmentalism I’ve been indulging in lately, are cats doing anything for the environment, or for global warming or against global warming, or vice versa? Try Global Warming Hates Kittens. I can’t tell if it is trying to spread green “awareness” (i.e. green stupidity) or sending it up, but luckily for me I don’t care.

image Apparently there really are such things as green cats, that is, cats which are green in colour, as opposed merely to cats owned or photographed and photoshopped by environmentalists with cat-affected brains. What with the photoshop angle, there’s not a lot of point in having a picture of green cats but there’s one anyway.

Apparently, somewhere in America, today has been National Feral Cat Day.  This must be the day when cat owners are urged to chuck all their cats out into the streets.  “Right you smug parasites, time to fend for yourselves.  From now on you’re going to have to be feral.” How cruel.

Here’s news of more anti-cat cruelty, in Wales both north and south.

Meanwhile, in Livingstone New Jersey, a couple have been accused of keeping more than 113 cats, in “deplorable and unhealthy” conditions.  But what will be done with the cats once the guilty couple have been punished and separated from them.  (In fairness to the authorities the couple are also guilty of other crimes.) If better homes are not found for all the cats, will some of them end up being murdered too?

BrianMicklethwaitDotCom Department of I told you so.

Coffee House:

Despite the circumstances of his election, Speaker Bercow is showing scant regard for the party who secured his election.

Something to do with bad behaviour by the Defence Secretary:

… this Speaker stands firm against the executive’s skullduggery.

But what about executive skullduggery after the next general election?  Will Bercow stand firm then?

Thursday October 15 2009

I see that PdeH wants environmental effort from us all, today.  No that’s wrong, he merely notes that somebody else wants it today, and not in a good way.  Whatever.  Here’s my threepence worth.  I have no time to be other than hasty, which is forgivable, I think, given that I have done three recent environmental pieces that were not (quite) so hasty.

I too was impressed by this comment on the most recent of the above bloggings.  Quote:

By seeking to stifle innovation and technology, the greens are actually making environmental problems worse.


See also this, which describes, with numerous links, how the mainstream media are fast falling out of love with the A(thropogenic) G(lobal) W(arming) argument.  Or scam, as more and more are now calling it.

Re my fascination with roof clutter of all kinds, I think that when the time comes, and it will come, when a thing like this is not needed any more, and it is taken down, people will miss it:


Snapped during the fading gray afternoon of yesterday, when I went wandering towards the Elephant and Castle, to photograph what passes in south London for a skyscraper, which is in the process of being built, in fact it’s nearly finished.  I’m busy now, but will probably (although I promise nothing) do some blogging about that, some time around soon, ish.

That’s not a deliberately black and white photo, by the way.  That is a colour photo.  By then, yesterday, pretty much everything that wasn’t making a conscious effort to be colourful had become black and white.

Michael J, any chance you could tell us (me) which bits of electronics do what?

Wednesday October 14 2009

When a bunch of Norwegians decided to offer the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, I went looking for who they were, and quckly found out.

Now I want to know which judge gave that injunction to stop the Guardian reporting on that question about Trafigura.  Well, here’s a suggestion, from a comment ("DocRichard" at 10.21pm) on this, in which he links to this blog posting, where it says this:

It is reported in Wikipedia that the judge who made the order was Mr Justice Sweeney.

I imagine judges, indeed the law in general, doesn’t like it when questions like this are asked.  And if that’s right, no doubt there are good reasons for it.  Even so, I am interested.

Adriana Lukas has just dropped by and has drawn my attention to another comment ("tory boys never grow up” – 13 October 12.44), on this (spelling cleaned up a bit):

Perhaps a little attention needs to be paid to what Trafigura and their lawyers are trying to avoid being disclosed. The Ivory Coast story and Lord Strathclyde’s resignation were already pretty much disclosed in the MSM back in September (see what David Leigh said in the Guardian) - my guess there is something else that they don’t want to be disclosed under the cover of parliamentary privilege. As a rule money conscious oil traders do not pay good money to Carter Ruck to prevent disclosure of stories that are already in the public domain.

The web of oil traders, hedge fund managers and politicians is probably one that might warrant a bit of investigation by the blogosphere.

Well, I reckon this story has aroused too much curiosity for that story, if there is a story there, to be ignored.

Another aspect of the story here is that a new kind of division is emerging in politics, between the ins and the outs, the politicians-and-capitalists who run the world, versus the politicians-and-capitalists who don’t.

If socialists want to call supporting the Outs against the Ins “socialism”, then I would say that is a great improvement over the previous kind of socialism.

Quite a few libertarians want to say that supporting the Outs aganst the Ins is “libertarianism”, but I don’t agree.  I think it is perfectly possible to be an impeccably libertarian multi-zillionaire (just as it’s possible to be a hideously socialist multi-zillionaire), who attends all those wicked In meetings.  It’s just that when he’s there he says that the Ins should all behave in a more libertarian way.  The politicians should reduce the scope of their various states, and in the meantime not be for sale (eventually: not be worth buying), and the capitalists should not buy them, and so on and so forth.

Big stuff, confusingly thought about.  One of the many things this blog is for.

Well, I thought I’d finished at that point, but look what I just found, in a piece about an ill-judged Ralph Lauren advert, which they tried to pretend had never happened:

People who are used to being in positions of power and control have a really hard time with the Internet. Some politicians are starting to get it. They should; they’re in the business not merely of power but of manipulating opinion and you can’t do that if you’re not paying attention. A lot of people though, still seem to be in mid-twentieth century style damage control mode and no matter how many times they are shown that it does not work they keep on trying to lawyer their way through and the effect is like a little kid stomping his feet and screaming, “Stop looking at me! Stop looking at me!”

No mention of Trafigura, or Carter-Ruck their lawyers.  Lynn, if you’ve not followed either of the links to it already, do look at this.  Grist to your mill, I promise you.

Tuesday October 13 2009

Nothing from me here today, but yes, a couple of things at Samizdata, about Trafigura, and about technological fixes for the environment.

Monday October 12 2009

The flag of the Benin Empire (1440-1897) is getting good reviews just now from the right-wing hey-that’s-a-laugh blogobit, such as I often overlap with. 

Here it is:


That’s a “That’s not a flag THIS is a flag” flag, I think you will agree.

The most striking thing is the way the decapitated one was trying not to attack the Beninian swordsman, but to tiptoe past him, while dressed the way Matt Lucas often is on Shooting Stars.  (He’s the one in the pink giant baby costume.  Not a pink giant, a giant baby costume, although even that is still confusing.  You know what I am trying to put.)

Also, the decapitatee is walking the way people walk when they don’t trust what they are walking on, leaning backwards, stretching out their front leg, testing the ground before letting it take their full weight.  Odd.  Is Benin an unstrustworthy place to walk in?

Iain Dale describes some of the preliminary processes of him trying to become MP for Bracknell - if he succeeds, what’s the betting he is known as “Lady Bracknell” from then on? - blogging here about how he earlier blogged about people coming to support him at a preliminary process or event or something, and about how some commenters had complained:

UPDATE: When I posted this originally a few days ago one or two commenters thought it was unfair of me to do so, on the basis that the other candidates haven’t got blogs.

Eh?!?  That’s like saying that Benjamin Disraeli had an “unfair advantage” on account of regularly giving well-attended speeches, or that Ricky Ponting has an unfair advantage as a cricketer on account of being such a good batsman.  If people trying to do politics don’t have blogs, or do but only crap ones, or for that matter don’t do Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and suffer politically as a result, then that’s their lookout.  On the other hand, if the Bracknelian Conservative selectors feel that Dale is pissing all over them with his hoity-toity non-Bracknelian blog, they can pick someone else.

It’s called politics.

If Dale does become an MP, it will be interesting to see what happens to his blog.  Will he become a standard issue grovelling backbencher and in due course (perhaps) a ditto frontbencher, or will he remain his own man and his own blogger?  Personally, I’d like to see more people become MPs with no intention of climbing any higher up the greasy pole, just being good backbenchers, holding the frontbenchers to account, by asking actual question type questions and investigating stuff that seems wrong.  Now Parliament just seems to be a huge queue to get the real jobs, and even the real jobs to be just another smaller queue to become Prime Minister, despite the fact that at least half the Prime Ministers fail miserably.

Sunday October 11 2009

For some months now I have been looking for a new, small computer keyboard, to replace the great wide clunky accountancy keyboard that you are usually obliged to use, complete with an extra pocket calculator stuck on the right that I don’t use occupying desk space that I can’t spare.

I’ve tried other small non-accountancy PC keyboards of the sort you can buy in Tottenham Court Road, usually made by a company called “Cherry”, but they are just as clunky as the big keyboards, and far too fiddly and generally horrible, not unlike the keyboard of the accursed Jesus (the Eee PC laptop that I am trying to forget and get rid of). Anyone want that?  Might be good for a small and rather geeky kid with totally impoverished parents.  Tenner anyone?  Immediate next day delivery in the London area.

But now, I have this:


It’s an Apple Mac unclunky keyboard (this one I think), pictured there next to the dirty, clunky old keyboard I’ve been using until now.  I saw it in a department store in Kingston this afternoon.  I said: Will that work with a PC?  He said: Should do.  I said: Show me.  He did.  It worked.  Bingo.  Bought it.  Took it home.  Plugged it in.  It worked.  Bingo.

It’s beautifully solid, the opposite of clunky, and I am rapidly getting very used to it.

Is this how the Apple habit starts?  You buy an Apple something.  It works.  It is nicer.  Even the cardboard case that it came in is nicer.  Everything about it is nicer than the PC equivalents.  Even the price of this little keyboard was nicer, by a bit.  And pretty soon you are converted.

My only problem so far is that I can’t delete the character to the immediate right of the cursor with just the one keystroke.  That particular delete button seems to have been lost, along with that superfluous pocket calculator.  To accomplish this, I now have to move the cursor to the other side of whatever I want to delete, and then delete it with the button, which mercifully remains, that deletes the character just before the cursor.  I could get used to this, but would rather not have to.  Anyone got any ideas about that?


Does that closer up picture of the new keyboard help at all?  (Click to get it bigger.) Hope so.

Saturday October 10 2009

Just done a piece for Samizdata in connection with a piece by BBC climate correspondent Paul Hudson, who has just asked What happened to global warming? It was one of those pieces which I started writing for here, and then realised would be better there, not least because I was basically asking a question. I was asking: this is big, yes?  Not big as in the fundamental facts of the argument having changed, but big as in: the hitherto deep frozen BBC position (global warming is happening and will kill us all unless you stop all that at once) appears to be melting, so to speak.

I have been casually following the whole we-are-boiling-ourselves-to-death argument, and have become an only casually informed Anthropogenic Global Warming skeptic.  Which is to say that were I asked to place a bet now concerning what would be the general opinion about Anthropogenic Global Warming in a few decades time, I’d bet that it would then be held in amused contempt, subject only to the fact that whoever was promoting the updated version of the capitalism-is-evil claim would be wanting everyone to forget about the earlier, now discredited version, just as warmists now want us to forget that thirty or more years ago they or their equivalents were all then freezists.  My prejudice against the warmists is getting ever more solid, but is based more on politics than on science.  I know what drivel was talked by all these people about economics, and why, and how, in the days when they used to talk drivel about economics.  But ever since communism collapsed with ignominy, they have switched to talking what sounds to me like the same kind of drivel about climate science, using all the same tricks, to justify all the same stupid political positions they can’t bear to abandon.  I now read pieces by people who know more about climate science than I do, such as Bishop Hill.  But in the end, my sense of how the argument is going is based on the general feel of the thing rather than on detailed arguments.  I am behaving, that is to say, more like a member of a jury than any sort of expert witness.  Or, like a voter, you might say.

And, like I say, I vote that it’s all hooey.  The best way for humanity to prepare for environmental turmoil is for it to get rich, so that it can afford to jack its houses up on stilts, move, whatever.  That, and if the earth ever does become hard to live in, we need to be as ready as we can be with technical fixes.  The atmosphere definitely, no bullshit, spoiling things for us?  So, change it.  The question then becomes: if trouble ever does strike, how ready will we be?  How smart will be?  How far will science and technology have progressed by then?  Or to put it another way, how much will the AGW-ists have succeeded in bringing science and technology to a grinding halt?

This, by the way, was the opinion of the late Chris R. Tame, who was the Director of the Libertarian Alliance when I did the pamphlets for the Libertarian Alliance.  He said that global warming (they hadn’t yet retreated to mere “climate change” or the despicable “climate change denial") was all evil lies, a quarter of a century ago.  They just hate industrial progress and want it stopped, like the Ayn Rand villains that they are.  That was his opinion.  I resisted this for a long time.  What if there’s something to it?  Now, I think he was completely right.

Friday October 09 2009


Yes, he’s a deluded leftwinger. But he’s a blogger first and foremost. Here’s hoping the court does the sensible thing and treats Johanna Kaschke to what she deserves ...

Deluded Leftwinger:

The uncontested facts here are that Ms Kaschke, as a student and member of the centre-left SPD in her native West Germany in the 1970s, helped to organise a benefit concert for Rote Hilfe, an organisation officially designated ‘left-extremist’ by the state; the gig was designed to raise funds for the legal fees of Baader-Meinhof Gang suspects; that she was herself subsequently arrested on suspicion of terrorism; and that she spent several months on remand, after which she was released and compensated for unfair imprisonment.

It is further uncontested that Ms Kaschke nominated herself as Labour candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow in 2007; that she received just one vote; that shortly thereafter she defected to George Galloway’s Respect party; shortly after that, she joined an as-yet-unspecified Communist Party; and that shortly after that, she became a Conservative.

She was, in other words, a member of four political parties in 12 months. Ms Kaschke contends that simply listing her affiliations, entirely accurately, denies her the right to freedom of association under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Salted Slug:

Joanna Kaschke is an attention-seeking, foaming-mouthed fuckpig, who is “rabbits-are-eating-my-face” mad.

Me:  I love that she is now a member of the Conservative Party.  She does indeed, like quite a few members of the Conservative Party in my experience, seem to have a few screws rather imperfectly tightened.  Although, Slug, there’s no foaming-mouthed fuckpiggery in that video you have up, is there?  Just calm, measured insanity.  And maybe there’s method in her madness.  Maybe Deluded Leftwinger has caused offence to some Tower Hamlets Conservatives, and they turned Kaschke loose on him by way of retaliation.

For me, here, it’s been one of those you-couldn’t make-it-up days.  And talking of rabbits, check this giant inflated rabbit out.  I hope to have a go at photo-ing that myself tomorrow.

I’m guessing that this Ms. Kaschke will in due course find her final political resting place as a member of the Liberal Democrats, where she will fit in just fine.

The universal derision that has greeted the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama will, I trust, cause the global spotlight to be turned on the people who made this fatuous decision, only one of whom was Obama himself, when he made the fatuous decision to accept the thing.  What the hell kind of Commander in Chief will he now be?  He can’t be a complete fool.  He got himself elected President, after all, which is no mean feat, especially when you factor in that he had to outwit the Clintons to do this.  But really, talk about reaching your level of incompetence.

The Chairman of the idiot committee in question, a group of people appointed by the idiot Parliament of Norway, is this prize plonker, a man named Thorbjørn Jagland:


Never heard of him, until today.  This big Norwegian cheese - he was, briefly and chaotically, the Prime Minister of Norway - was just last month appointed the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.  Bloody hell.

In an earlier version of this, I had this twat presiding over a bunch of guilty men, but actually the idiots in question look like this:

image image image image

I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes during the next few days, either.

My thanks to Samizdata commenter Laird for answering my who-are-these-idiots? question in the comments here, with this link.  As I said in an earlier comment on this, this piece of foolishness reminds me of the Polanski ruckus. Time was when regular people couldn’t chase up things like this, and tell the people in question they’re arseholes. Now, we can.

Thursday October 08 2009

Yesterday I linked to a piece about an industry up against it, the newspapers.  Here’s a quote from another industry facing grief at the hands of more recent technology, photoed by me last week, just off Leicester Square:


Is that true?  Not that God is shutting cinemas, but that downloading movies on the internet is replacing cinema-going.

If so. I would guess that the combination of Blu-Ray hi-def discs, or their virtual equivalent, and huge great flat screen tellies are doing particular damage to the cinema trade.  Every home thus equipped is half way to being a cinema itself.  On the other hand, I find lo-def DVDs quite sufficient as a substitute for cinema-going.  If I want a big screen telly, I move my small screen telly nearer.

But I think it may be deeper than this.  Now, people just aren’t as excited about going to the cinema as the generation just before mine was, the one that went to the cinema every Saturday morning, to watch whatever was showing.

Others have photoed this sign also.  Says a flickr commenter: “Every time you download music from the internet, God kills a kitten.” That can’t be true.

My God, I’m kitten blogging again.  And it’s Friday. Now this will be comment spammed by people selling kitty food.  If that happens, God will kill them.  I wish.

Wednesday October 07 2009

One of the things that complicates blogging is the way you accumulate lots of links and quotes from other pieces, intending one day to comment on each one separately, at quite some length and with extreme wisdom, but which you eventually forget about.  A way around this is to just gather up all such bits and bobs into one post.  So here goes with some random quotes, in pretty much random order, that I have come across over the last few days and been amused by.

I start with a quote from Theodore Dalrymple, the truth of which I think explains quite a lot:

When one is indignant, one does not wonder what life is for or about, the immensity of the universe does not trouble one, and the profound and unanswerable questions of the metaphysics of morals are held temporarily in abeyance.

Jackie Danicki often quotes me admiringly, most recently here.  I now go a little way to thanking her for all that, by quoting a snippet from her recent posting entitled The neurotic’s conundrum:

We must reap the benefits of our pathologies ...

Indeed.  Don’t try and fail to change your personality, unless your personality is downright evil.  Find somewhere and something where your personality fits in just fine, and is just what they need.  If, say, you are obsessed with doing absolutely everything that you do exactly right, don’t waste you time and your life trying and failing to lighten up.  Get a job in, e.g., a nuclear power station.

Now for a couple of sports quotes, the first one being a headline:

Collingwood suffers buttock niggle.

And Stuart Broad too, apparently.  It’s those two slightly funny-in-themselves words that I like, jammed right next to each other.  Buttock.  Niggle.  Well, I laughed.  And oh look, they agree, because they’ve changed it to something more decorous.  It definitely did say “buttock niggle”, rather than “buttock strain”.

The second sport-quote is a snatch of monologue from Chris Rock, being interviewed on the telly, in connection with the Polanski ruckus, saying what he thinks of the “but he made some good movies” defence:

Even Johnnie Carson Cochran didn’t have the nerve to say: “Well did you see OJ play against New England?”

Speaking of words and the way words sound, here’s Alfred Brendel explaining how, after a working lifetime spent playing classical piano, he has more recently turned to poetry:

How does he account for this sudden spurt of poetic creativity in his mid-sixties? “I cannot tell you,” he says. “But I’ve read a great deal in my life, and especially a huge amount of poetry when I was young. So perhaps this accumulated mass of words started to work by itself inside my head, and somehow sorted itself out. Many writers will tell you that the hypnagogic state [the transition between sleep and consciousness] is an important well of their creativity. That’s true for me. Sometimes between waking and sleeping a poem will form, and sometimes I wake up in the night and it goes on. Then I look at it in the morning and it seems to work. It’s the state between dreaming and waking that’s so interesting. You are both here and there.”

As an atheist, I not only find myself disagreeing with the claims made by religion, but also trying to explain religion.  If it’s wrong, how come it’s still out there, in such strength?  Perhaps a part of why religion persists is that people fail to get how vast is their own subconscious, confusing their conscious with all their mental processes.  So, when an idea pops into their mind, and it must have come from somewhere, they believe it must have come from outside of themselves, like a radio signal.  Like, that is, the voice of God.  Well, just a thought.

There are still lots more quotes and links hanging about in my computer, but I will end this with just two more, both comments, one on this, about chasing wicked Acorn people, Acorn being a wicked organisation in America ... :

… if you actually do have witches, witch hunts are the right course of action ...

... and the other, about the travails of trying to keep newspapers alive:

Papers began dying when it became illegal to serve Fish & Chips on newsprint.

I think the problem of newspapers is not that they didn’t get that the www was coming to get them; their problem was that the economics of running newspapers was/is so totally different to the economics of getting something going on the web.  Even a merely ticking-over newspaper is awash with money, which means that there is a fatal tendency for web-operations started by newspapers to be either on a huge (too huge) scale, from the start, or sensible, but on a scale that strikes them as humiliatingly tiny.  As soon as it looks like their new www dot thing is doing okay, they flood it with money, while taking it for granted that they already know what doing okay means and how to spend all the money.  Then a year later, they accuse it of losing money, shut it down and try something else.  Repeat until all that newspaper money runs out.  (Recently I had an interesting conversation with an English journo friend with a slightly different tale to tell.  More of which anon.  (Maybe.  I promise nothing.))

Lots of categories for this posting.

Tuesday October 06 2009

Yes, this guy can definitely prevent that meltdown:


Not really. More snaps here, including, of course, one with snappers in the foreground.

More seriously, he might be a good way for those of us who don’t like the green movement to describe the green movment.  Big read stripe, smaller green stripe on top, and a distinctly bossy manner.

Sunday October 04 2009

Just what I was thinking:

My daughter - just past 13 herself - comments that until pretty recently, actors and theater people were just a rung, or maybe a half-rung, above common criminals in the public estimation, and suggests that the Polanski scandal, and Hollywood’s tone-deaf reaction to it, may go some distance toward returning things to the status quo ante.

More from me at Samizdata about the l’affaire Polanksi, and about how the internet has changed things. 

Saturday October 03 2009



I finally got around to noticing this when I was looking at one of those lists, in this case presumably of weird furniture, that I mentioned in this earlier posting.  (Later: no, I found it among these 142 bits of furniture.)

Things like this are our equivalent of the wildly ornate furniture of earlier epochs.  Fantastical decoration no longer impresses, for that is now too easily done.  But elaborate and well executed (which this would appear to be) visual puns, preferably not seen before, are just the ticket.

Ah, the joy of computer translation:

“Here come the more favor Obama just before the deadline and made showoff. He clearly won the battle in the media, but it turned out indeed to be indifferent. IOC members did not feel important, and they were indeed reduced to spectators and not players. So if he had come, he would have had time for a personal lubricant.”

I don’t know who I find more off-putting, Obama, or the IOC people who were made to feel by him – the horror, the horror – not important.

I know, it’s basic salesmanship that you have to do this ...

So when Tony Blair promoted London he was around three days to lobby and talk to people.

More’s the pity.  Chicago should think itself lucky that Obama did such an inept job for them.

Thank you Instapundit.

Not long ago I said here that I don’t read Guido’s comments any more, because most of them are too silly.  But is this true, I have more recently been wondering, and am I missing out on some good stuff?  So it was that I just read this, which is a comment on this, from Old Holborn:

I follow the Labourlist blog avidly. It is a rich seam of piss boiling authoritarianism written by an ever dwindling number of delusional crackpots and weirdos. It gives me great pleasure to sit back and read the utterly breathtaking weapons grade fizzy bubble poo that spouts out of the mouths of the last few remaining Labour supporters in the land as they struggle to justify what has happened to this country over the last twelve years.

Then I read the polls and see that nearly 80% of the voting population, some 20 million people will not vote for Labour. They’ll be lucky to get 5 million votes in May 2010.

Why? They are desperate to find out over at Labourlist.

Well, over the past 12 years, who has actually profited from Labour?

The poor. Fair enough, you got your minimum wage. What has actually happened is that anybody who is so unskilled that their labour is not worth £5.80 an hour is unemployable. Resulting in millions sitting at home on their arses. They’ll never work again and they know it. To keep them placated, you’ve introduced a massive hike in benefits making it impossible for them to find work and profit from it. They don’t care either way. Using Danegeld, you’ve bought their vote.

Immigrants. An open door policy has allowed every Dick, Tomascz and Mirek to arrive here and take up the jobs you are paying UK citizens NOT to do. Germany were smart enough to block EU new members from seeking work in Germany. You weren’t. So millions sit on the dole, whilst Poles and Latvians work the fields and send the money home. Not counting the million illegals who are currently thoroughly enjoying themselves on out stayed visas.

Minorities. From Lesbians to radical Islamists, you’ve paved the streets with gold for them. You draconian laws and bizarre equality rules means they can shout as loudly as they want, incite violence, demand quotas, funding and “special” allowances that no one else can touch and we sit back and watch them abuse their new rights with a gusto.

The Feckless. Yup. Families ruined, lawless streets, downs syndrome kids with O Levels, feral animals beating us to death, a powerless judicial and legal system, overflowing prisons. Have some tax credits, working family credit, whatever. Just vote Labour.

So there’s your vote. The five million you’ve made life fantastic for. 12 years and you’ve helped 5 million people to “improve” their lives. Non jobs in the State, the unemployable bribed with Stella and benefits to behave themselves (they aren’t) and you expect to win a fourth term?

What have you done for the other 20 million who are paying for the 5 million?

Nothing. Except treat them with utter contempt. You’ve legislated our rights away, you monitor our every move, licence our lives and tax us till we bleed. You regularly insult us, abuse us, search us, spy on us, prosecute us, deride us, laugh at us and then sneer at us.

You are about to be reminded that four out of five of us absolutely detest you for the last 12 years of your “power”. We don’t dislike you, or slightly disagree with you. WE HATE YOU. 80% of the electorate wants you GONE. We don’t care what you say anymore. We don’t care what you do anymore. We just want to be represented again.

So cuddle the poor, the unemployed, the feckless, the worthless, the unemployable and the immigrants, the weird and the wonderful, the “oppressed”, the Islamofacists, the “culturally different” all you fucking want. They’re going to be the only ones voting for you and try as you might, they still only represent one in five of the British Electorate. 20 million of us are going to put you on your bastard arses for treating us like something you walked in. And then we’re going to start undoing the damage you’ve wreaked on this country and it’s hard working, honest, decent citizens who didn’t deserve any of this.

You can stick your CCTV, Police State, wheelie bin Stasi, DNA, WMD, “Social Cohesion”, benefits for all, guilty until proved innocent, don’t do that it’s illegal now, can’t say that, ID cards for all, where are you going, what have you been saying/doing/reading, can’t photograph that, how very dare you, golliwog banning, we know where you live, we’re watching you Soviet Utopia up your arses. Sideways.

I have put down three bottles of very good Champagne to celebrate your demise on May 9th. I intend to party all night. 4 out of 5 people are invited.

I wouldn’t want you thinking I necessarily agree with all this.  I quote it at least as much because it is such a well-done rant, as because I agree with most of it.  In particular, my prejudices are all in favour of Tomascz and Mirek having come here and worked in the fields.  Do you really think that the welfare underclass would have been picking fruit and clambering about on scaffolding for the past decade, if Poles and Latvians hadn’t been?  My belief is that the state of Britain would have been far worse without Tomascz and Mirek, and that they helped pay for all the crap described in the rest of this rant.

Which is also, I now find, a blog posting, at Old Holborn’s own blog, and I’m guessing he did it there first and then copied it into Guido.  So, it isn’t a real Guido comment.  Pity.  If he did the rant at Guido, and then turned it into a blog posting: better, I think.  But, I don’t think that was it.  Cross-posting without saying so is a bit uncool, I think.  But not as uncool as our horrible government.

To the above, “TheCourtOfPublicOpinion” adds the following:

“You regularly insult us, abuse us, search us, spy on us, prosecute us, deride us, laugh at us and then sneer at us.”

Don’t forget the big one – “you steal from us”.


Thursday October 01 2009

The ever-www.curious Lynn links to 10 Awesome Images That Are Actually Paintings, of which this is one:


That’s just the kind of rather pointless snap I’d do after getting off a train and while waiting for the next one, rescued from total pointlessness by the distant view of that skyscraper.  It actually looks a lot like London, but it’s Chicago, yes?  If I lived in Chicago, I have hundreds of snaps of that thing in the distance, with different stuff in the foreground.  But why paint this?  Well, this is what the guy, whose name is Bert Monroy, says in answer to that:

As a photo-realist painter, I have often been asked why I don’t just take a photograph. Good question, when you consider my paintings look like photographs. Well, for one thing, I’m not a photographer. To me, it is not the destination that is important - it is the journey.  The incredible challenge of recreating reality is my motivation.

Well, it’s a point of view.

The trouble with all these images, for me, is that they are just too accurate in their slavish reproduction of the look of a photo.  Photorealism works better if you can tell it’s not actually a photo.  But if it is a perfectly reproduced photo, well, why bother to do it by hand?

I also found my way, after that, to other lists, like this one of weird stretch limos.  I like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Stretch Campervan the best, and I’ve actually seen, I swear, the first one, the pink one.

There are lots of lists to be found here, such as: 12 Coolest Steampunk Gadgets, 15 Designs Inspired by Tetris, 15 Most Stupid Forehead Tattoos, 13 Most Extreme Gadgets Inspired by Hello Kitty, ...  I can’t be bothered to do all the links, but I did take a closer look at 10 Geekiest Panties.  The girls don’t look very geeky to me.  I guess the geeks are the prey, like in that TV show.