Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Libertarianism

Sunday March 26 2017

I just sent out the mass email flagging up Chris Cooper’s talk on the Rise of Our Robot Overlords, chez moi, next Friday.  I have asked his permission to reproduce his entire spiel.  Meanwhile, here is how it begins, which I really like:

I’ve only recently realized the staggering implications of the project of AGI, or artificial general intelligence – the Holy Grail of present-day AI research. (I prefer to talk about AGIs, or AGI systems, rather than “robots”; “robot” has tin-man connotations that are part of the problem – they suggest the possibility of fraternization.) …

Which is why the talk is now officially entitled: “The Threat to Life and to Liberty of Artificial General Intelligence”.

These robots, whose pronouncements I have been following in recent days and weeks, don’t seem very fraternal:

image

They sound more like they’re artificial general intelligence.

Sunday February 26 2017

It has taken me quite a while to learn how to photo my meetings.  The problem is that the room is so small that whichever way you point the camera, you are going to miss two thirds of what is going on.

The best place to photo from is above, standing on a stool:

image

That shot was taken at last Friday’s meeting, the one addressed by Marc Sidwell, Marc being the one sitting, in a white shirt, on the brown sofa with the big arms, next to Real Photographer Rob with his real camera.  The formalities have ended and informality has begun.  It was an excellent talk and an excellent evening, and I hope to be saying more about it, maybe here, but more probably there.

In a perfect world, I could attach my camera to a stick, and take the shot from the middle of the ceiling, rather than from its edge.  Even in this picture, there are people missing who were present.

This would be a good use for a selfie stick, of the sort that those who moan about selfie sticks don’t pause to think about.

Monday February 20 2017

Last night I sent out the email concerning the Brian’s Last Friday meeting this coming Friday, at the end of which email I found myself blurting out this:

Whenever I concoct these promotional emails I end up feeling very excited about the forthcoming talk.  This time, this effect was especially pronounced.

This was what got me “very excited”:

Marc Sidwell will give a talk entitled: Promoting Freedom in a Post-Expert World.

He will be speaking about “the ongoing erosion of power and technocratic authority (most recently visible in the Brexit vote and the rise of Trump) and proposing some ways libertarians can respond to this shift.”

Other talk titles that were considered: “Twilight of the Wonks” and “The Revenge of Common Sense”.

Marc Sidwell is an journalist, editor, publisher, and writer, most recently of a How To Win Like Trump, now riding high in the Kindle best-seller List.  More about Marc, his career and his publications, here.

For further information about the kinds of ideas Marc will be presenting, I strongly recommend a visit to: marcsidwell.com/.

It was there that I gleaned this quote, from Brexit campaigner Dominic Cummings:

“All those amazed at why so little attention was paid to ‘the experts’ did not, and still do not, appreciate that these ‘experts’ are seen by most people of all political views as having botched financial regulation, made a load of rubbish predictions, then forced everybody else outside London to pay for the mess while they got richer and dodged responsibility. They are right. This is exactly what happened.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if that quote gets a mention at some stage during Marc’s talk.

I would add that there are some kinds of expertise that continue to be held in very high esteem.  Nobody doubts the expertise of the people who make all the machines and devices, mechanical and electrical, that keep our world ticking over efficiently and entertainingly.  Not all expertise is now held in low regard, only the kinds of expertise that Cummings itemises.

The room is already starting to fill up.

Email me (see top left of this blog) if you want to know more about these monthly speaker meetings at my home.

Thursday February 16 2017

Yesterday I told you about a photo I took on January 20th of this year.  Earlier that day I had journeyed to Bromley-By-Bow tube station, then walked south along the River Lea, and ended my wanderings at Star Lane Station.  It was a great day for photoing, and I especially enjoyed photoing this witty sculpture:

imageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimage

But who did it?  This evening I realised that I seemed to recall Mick Hartley having something to say about this, and so it proved.

It’s by Abigail Fallis, and it is called DNA DL90.  Well, I say that’s what it’s called.  That’s what Abigail Fallis called it, but I bet nobody else calls it that.  I bet what most people call it is more like: Shopping Trolley Spiral.  I’m guessing further that Abigail Fallis regards her sculpture as some kind of critique of late capitalist consumerism.  But such ArtGrumbling need not stop the rest of it thoroughly enjoying the thing, and also continuing to relish our trips to the supermarket, there to sample the delights of early capitalism.  Because you see, Abigail, capitalism is just getting started.

Yes. I was right.  Says Hartley:

It is, says Fallis, a symbol of modern society’s consumer culture, which has now become entwined in our genetic make-up. They can’t help themselves, can they, these artists?

The usual bitch about Artsists is that they are predictable, and indeed they are.  But this was something else again.  I literally predicted this, before I read it.  How predictable is that?  Very, very.

Thursday November 03 2016

I have just done a rather belated posting at Samzidata about a talk given there a week ago, at which I was present and at which I attempted photos.  At Samizdata, I grumbled about the light for photoing the speaker, but showed one of my less bad efforts.  I rejoiced that there was also present an internally lit screen, and showed one of those photos.  Here is another such:

image

Smith wins, of course.  Marx’s prophecies were clearly wrong, even while he was still alive and pretending otherwise.

Friday August 26 2016

I spent today (a) fretting that my meeting this evening at my home might not be a very good meeting (on account of me not managing to persuade enough people to attend it), (b) having the meeting, and then (c) being pleased that it was a very good meeting.  Thank you Nico Metten, the speaker.

I forgot, as usual, to take any photos of the meeting, so here is something (chosen because Friday is my day here for cats (and other creatures)) I photoed earlier:

image

I was in horse country earlier in the week, but only saw an electric horse.  That real horse (with cart) was photoed in the vicinity of South Bermondsey railway station, just over a month ago.

Tuesday July 19 2016

Indeed.  Photoed by me this afternoon:

image

I remember enjoying the original Ghostbusters, because of its pro-free-market political angle.  This piece explains this political angle well.

Mostly what I think about all the feminism in this latest iteration, and of all those complaining about the feminism, is that you don’t own works of popular entertainment just because you liked them when you were young.  If you like the original but not the new one, then ignore then new one and watch the old one again.  It is very childish to get all steamed up about your childhood memories being mucked about with, if they have not actually been mucked about with.  I mean, the original Ghostbusters survives, and has not in fact been in any way tampered with.

LATER: The Original Ghostbusters: A Free Market Gem

Saturday June 18 2016

I am currently spending all my blogging time, apart from the late night hour or so that it took to bash out this, working on a summary of a talk given to Libertarian Home by Mark Littlewood, about Brexit.  Lilttlewood used to be for Britain staying in the EU, but has since changed his mind.  I hope to be sending that summary in to LH some time tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my understanding of the referendum is that the Jo Cox murder has made a bit of a difference, in favour of Remain, but that a stronger swing towards Leave has also been happening.

The whole immigration argument, now being pressed hard by the Leavers, is obviously making a big difference.  But I reckon some other forces are also in play.

I was struck by the news that Leave was appealing to Labour voters by saying that voting Leave would wipe the smile off the faces of Cameron and Osborne.  I think that’s probably proving to be very persuasive.  In a General Election, you can hate Cameron and Osborne all you like, and vote against them.  But, against you are all those people who think that a Labour Government would be a catastrophe.  They all vote for Cameron and Osborne despite not liking them.  But in this referendum, all those Labour voters whose overriding emotion is loathing of Cameron and Osborne can actually cause Cameron and Osborne to lose.  I’m guessing that’s a very appealing idea.

I also think that Eddie Izzard’s bizarre appearance – literally his appearance – on shows like Question Time destroyed with one viral image the claim that all Remainers are normal people and only the more unhinged of the Leavers are a bunch of nutters from some other planet.  Izzard reminded me of that bonkers woman in a beret that the late Victoria Wood once did, to such comic effect.

To be clear.  I’m not saying that everyone now thinks that those arguing for Leave are all normal.  Leavers have long been reckoned by normal people people to be, many of them, about as sane as a sackful of drunken badgers.  What Izzard did was say to the nation: Lots of us Remainers are barking mad too.

Izzard, in other words, completely changed a widespread and very influential idea.  If everyone had been supposing that all Leave freaks are actually not freaks at all, any of them, than the Jo Cox murder would also have changed things, a lot.  As it is, this horror story merely confirms what most people already know about Leave freaks.  They’re freaks.  Meanwhile, the mainstream politicians arguing for Leave are not nearly such freaks.  They are fairly normal looking.  They look normal in the way that Farage looked normal, when he was sitting next to Izzard on Question Time.  The Jo Cox murder doesn’t change that.

Izzard, on the other hand, actually changed things.  The murder of an MP is a much bigger deal than Izzard.  But that murder, horrible though it was, does not change what most people think about Leavers.  Many Leavers are freaks.  But what Izzard did was use his small national presence to suggest a really rather big change, and not in a way that helped the cause he was arguing for.  He said that many Remainers are freaks too.

That’s the problem with showbiz people.  They confuse showbiz popularity with being popular with the entire nation.  If you find a comedian to be annoying or just not very funny, you can simply ignore him, happily leaving those who adore him to carry right on adoring him.  The comedian makes a good living.  You are not bothered.  Problem solved.  Everyone happy.  Personally, I think Eddie Izzard has one joke - “Hey, I’m completely random in what I say!” - and I’ve heard it enough not to want to hear it again.  So, I now ignore Izzard.

But politics is, by definition, the stuff that comes for you whether you want it or not.  Politics is like having to sit and listen to a performer whom you don’t like.  When Izzard steps forward, dressed like that, spouting political opinions, he then provokes, from those who do not like what they are seeing, not a mere shrug of indifference, but active opposition.  Izzard made people want to vote against what he was saying.

In this recent piece in the Independent, it was claimed that how Izzard had been arguing was the problem.  I wonder if even the anonymous editors who signed off on this editorial really think this.  They carefully avoided saying that Izzard looked like a freak.  Which is fine for late night telly fun.  But it is not fine when the subject being argued about is the manner in which our country should be governed.  There is a reason that ambitious politicians do not, any of them, present themselves as Izzard just did.

If the Brexit referendum result is as close as it could well be, Izzard’s contribution to the Leave cause could prove to have been decisive.

This has been a been a rather muddled and repetitious piece of writing.  This is because I was working out what I thought, as I wrote.  The point about how the Jo Cox murder doesn’t change how anyone feels about Leave Freaks, but that Izzard’s pratting about does change what lots of people feel about Remainers, and that lots of people now reckon that a lot of Remainders are Freaks too, only emerged as I wrote.  But, me thinking aloud is one of the things this place is for.

Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
Incoming horizontality from Simon Gibbs
Feline Friday at Samizdata
Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
I want to write more here about music
Deirdre McCloskey - The Great Enrichment – Using a smartphone as a mirror
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
My latest meeting went fine
My next last Friday meeting: Patrick Crozier on the political consequences of WW1
Happy couples
My next five last Friday of the month speakers
Blog often (this time about the sound and the vision of this evening’s Tim Evans talk to LH)
Polishing
Another way to photo my meetings
The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
Syed Kamall MEP wins by playing five and losing five
For CAR’S read CARS
New chairs
Milo Yiannopoulos
Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
Moving speaker – unmoving listeners, video holder and books
BMdotcom quotes of the day from Edward Snowden (and a picture of him)
Back to being ill
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Bizarre designer furniture in a Covent Garden window
Pete Comley talking about inflation on Friday February 27th
Peter Thiel on striking a balance between optimism and pessimism and on how failure is overrated
Talk went well - two (not really) quota photos
Talk tomorrow – haircut today
My digital photos on his TV
On the rights and wrongs of me posting bits from books (plus a bit about Rule Utilarianism)
Pictures of Guy Herbert
The illustrations for Christian Michel’s talk this Friday (plus some thoughts from me)
At the Libertarian Home cost of living debate
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
Rob took photos
On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
Happy Friday (eventually)
Something at Samizdata
ASI Boat Trip 4: Groups of posing people
ASI Boat Trip 3: Drink!
ASI Boat Trip 2: My photos were indeed better than they looked last night
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
Last night at my place
The Lib Dem cat is out of the box
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom quota quote of the day
Lilburne on a T-shirt and Lilburne on a mug
Michael Jennings talking about Russia this Friday
Mark Littlewood photoed by me and by this other guy
A slightly foreign part of London
Anton Howes – James Lawson – Will Hamilton
Nothing from me here today
Well that’s a relief
Green screen blue screen
Frank Turner on playing in an arena
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Other things last Wednesday
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
Detlev Schlichter talking about Von Mises (and being videoed)
When you are old you tend to assume that confusion is your fault even if actually it is not
Bits of music at non-musical blogs
Aiden Gregg meeting photos
Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
The next five Brian’s Last Fridays
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
Jamie Whyte on deferring gratification less as he gets older
Guido in the Spectator (and in Free Life)
Anton Howes at the Rose and Crown
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
Why I admire short term weather forecasts but why cricket people don’t
Antoine Clarke on life and libertarianism in Britain in 1913
Perry Metzger on taking seriously the declared objectives of opponents
Steve Davies talk last night
Google Nexus 4 photos
Pictures of LLFF2013
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Bad times for the NHS
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
Are Christian social conservatives using the Tea Party to impose social conservatism?
And on my other personal blog …
Doctor Theatre - here very briefly but now there
Talk by Frank Braun about Bitcoin at my home on Aug 3rd
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom has been seen elsewhere!
How gun control works and how it will defend Libertaria
Pictures of the Libertarian Home meeting in Southwark last night
Is Samizdata dying?
Liberty League Conference speakers
NFL fans and their name-and-number shirts in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
More pictures from the James Tooley lecture yesterday
David Friedman on the similarity between fractional reserve banking and insurance
Three videos from the USA that I recently watched
A potential challenger for Gary Not-Obama
Go Not Obama!
Sean Gabb’s recent statement about the Libertarian Alliance
Underestimating Paul Marks
I can now copy and paste from .pdf files
The free market encourages curiosity
Me and Patrick Crozier talk about the banking crisis and its possible consequences
St Valentine’s Day talk by me on architecture
David Botsford a decade ago
More LA Conference speaker photos
I see no purpose in separating questions from talks
Tatchell
Malcolm Hutty on protecting the internet
Another link enema
Google rolls out computer controlled cars
10/10/10 launch for Norlonto Review
Guerrilla webfare
Exploitation?
Tim Evans looking happy
Making those Big Statements one slice at a time
Steve Davies lecture - photoing and videoing the lecture - post-lecture chat
Why my libertarianism has the look and feel of socialism
I flipping told him
Voice and exit
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
Quick video work by the Oxford libertarians
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
The right to photograph
Trying to become an adequate interviewer of promising libertarians
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
Pictures of Anthony Evans
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
I’ve just sold Jesus!!!
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Why I vote against AGW
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
At least libertarianism is understood over there
Great speech by Kevin Dowd in Paris which should be available to listen to soon
Vince Miller with cat
UK libertarian bloggers 2.0
Tea hea
Who are all the UK libertarian bloggers?
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
Patri Friedman versus Chris Tame
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
James Tyler’s speech at Policy Exchange
Lawrence H. White on the Scottish experience of free banking
My confusion about free banking
Embedded video
The Rand revival - and some thoughts about Rand’s failure to understand architectural tradition
Brian Micklethwait’s Education Blog is now on indefinite hold
Truth is true
Photoing the Police
Do nothing?
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
Meme for the New Depression
Commenting about the Dowd lecture at Samizdata
Link to Samizdata piece about arguments from incredulity
Kevin Dowd
More random links
A little drunk blogging
Random links
Michael Jennings on shoring up the bad old economy versus building a good new one
Linkin Park - one leg short of libertarian
Thoughts concerning FDR’s warmongering nature
My Oxford talk on Google video – or summarised by a friendly blogger
New addition to blogroll
Preparing for Oxford
Blogging elsewhere and talks elsewhere
Knackered
At Liberty 2008 all day
Guido Fawkes conflates the Monetarists and the Austrians – needs to chat with Antoine Clarke
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Antoine Clarke on the financial turmoil and the US election
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Notes on libertarian tactics August 2008
Will Wilkinson
Not in the top twenty
On the nature of the evolution argument
Cricket misery
Armed is less dangerous
The British Public continues to dislike too-high-and-rising taxes
This is why I put stuff up here every day
Signs of civilisation
LAHTML
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
Another don’t-get-it-right-get-it-written Samizdata posting
The drive to see smiles (and they have to be real)
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Nothing untoward happening!
Links to me elsewhere – and a photo of Marc-Henri Glendening
Aid rewards low growth
Talking with Antoine Clarke about Sean Gabb
Lib Dems edge towards school choice
Links and guns
Who decides?
Ideas and opportunities
A talk and a photo
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
End the medical monopoly!
The double thank-you moment
Is Jeremy Paxman a closet libertarian?
How compulsion deranges the spreading of ideas
The Conservatives prepare for power
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
More on the Lib Dems
Antoine and me on democracy and libertarianism - and me on how to podcast
Perry de Havilland on the thinking behind Samizdata
What are conferences for?  What should they consist of?
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries
Load - fire - howl in agony clutching foot
Do the Lib Dems just tell everyone what they each of them want to hear?
They are only games
Talking with Tim Evans about the Libertarian Alliance
When everything is copyable
Remembering the Alternative Bookshop experience
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Misprints
Patrick and Brian mp3 about libertarianism and spreading libertarianism
Bashing on for Samizdata
Unsweet birds of freedom
That’s it
‘Libertarian’ now beats ‘Marxist’
Those cartoons
Capitalism sermons and Bentley wings
Old days not perfect shock
It’s murder down there
Last night’s talk
I am not too clever
A brief posting on causation and responsibility
What The Tyranny of The Facts said
A little education blogging
Daniel Cuthbert - wrongly convicted “hacker” - and photographer
More on Katrina
Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said
On free trade and on being persuasive (and unpersuasive)