Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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- Steve Davies talk last night
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- the Norlonto Review is back!
- There are cranes and there are cranes
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- Spot the Samsung connection
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- Cassette iPhone photographer
- Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
- Testing again
- BMdotCOM insult of the day
- Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
- BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
- Wedding photography (5): Photography!
- Phablet news
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Category archive: Current events
Commenter Jimmy Haigh (May 30, 3:05 PM), on this at Bishop Hill:
He’s trying to sit on the fence and eat it too.
He is talking about the revolting Tim Yeo, who either has, or has not, changed his mind about Global Warming, depending on who you read. But either way, he continues to make lots of money out of it.
Yesterday I waited until it was nearly dark for it to stop snowing, but it never did and I went out anyway, back to see whether the new crane that I spotted last Friday on lorries was up and craning.
As soon as I got to Vauxhall Bridge Road, I had my answer. Here is how things looked from Vauxhall Bridge, and then from closer to:
That I was able to get closer was down to the fact that they have now cleared up sufficiently for traffic to be flowing again. Fast work.
Which meant that I could, without interrupting anything more important, take a closer look at where the helicopter actually hit the ground:
If you click on that left picture, you will see, in line with the two broken windows, a diagonal blue line, which tells you roughly what happened. The helicopter struck the edge of the roof of the building, and then landed in front of it. Wreckage and flames than spread to the front of the building on the right.
So, life in Vauxhall is rapidly getting back to normal, as these next two gents illustrate. In the second of these two pictures, I include the towers and the cranes, visible beyond the smaller blocks in the middle distance. Helicopter crash? What helicopter crash?
Digital photography has, I surmise, caused more snowmen to be created. Because now you can snap them and boast about them to your friends.
Snow is both good news and bad news for photographers like me. The good news is that (in addition to increased numbers of snowmen) it creates wonderfully oil-painting-like effects out of the most commonplace of circumstances, such as this coil of barbed wire on top of a covered footbridge, there to stop people using the top of the footbridge as a way to get across it and plunder:
The bad news is that if you point your camera upwards, which is hard to avoid if you are photographing tall cranes from very close, you get blobs of snow on your lens. Not all of the photos from which these four are selected were the successes that they would have been, had there been no snow still descending:
I was able to get these shots because, when retracing my steps towards home, I found that I could actually get closer to the cranes than I had earlier thought. Those shots were taken outside one of the St George Wharf flats front doors, right next to the cranes.
I would describe myself as a “craniac”, but googling tells me that the word is already taken, not by us crane lovers, but by people bothered about improving their craniums, or something. Pity.
As you can see, the wrecked crane is still up there, the new crane only just having been erected.
Despite the weather, and despite the grim circumstances that I was photographing, this was a most satisfactory little expedition.
Yesterday I posted a short photo-piece at Samizdata about the Vauxhall helicopter crash, but had difficulty with the photos. Not having posted any photos on Samizdata for about a month, I had to rediscover how to do it. I am definitely not going to be switching to Wordpress here any time very soon. Although, come to think of it, maybe I will switch soonish, if only to be able to practice posting photos on Wordpress, here. Given that here I allow myself to do any damn fool thing I feel like doing. Like not post anything for a week, for no good reason.
So anyway, here is a photo (a slice out of the photo I did post at Samizdata) which I tried to post at Samizdata yesterday, late last night, but got in a muddle with and gave up on. Now, I will embed a link to this, from there.
The problem with photoing this ruined crane is, for me, getting into a good position. This was the best shot I could get yesterday, given that I was in a hurry because of fading light. What I may now try is photoing it from one of the platforms of Vauxhall Station, which is the other side of the crane from where I was yesterday. Station platforms being long, you can move back and forth until you get the best shot. Today looks like nice weather, so maybe I’ll try that this afternoon.
I need more text here, to fit the photo into this posting without it bashing into the previous posting. So, what else to say about this?
Well, one thing I can say is that I am extremely curious about how they will sort this out. I guessed in my Samizdata piece that it will be a while before they get around to sorting out this crane, because on the ground they have other things to sort out, involving thousands of commuters going to and fro every day, on the road onto which the stricken helicopter fell, spreading flames everywhere. The builders will just not be first in the queue. The builders will be needing the road when they bring in whatever other cranes they need, to remove the ruined crane, and to put up another crane, so I’m guessing they’ll have to wait until the road is sorted and back in business.
Plus, do they mend the crane, or replace it? Does anyone kinow what the routine is for fixing a crane in this state, on a site like this one? As I understand it, the entire tower-building job depends on that crane, and now the entire job comes to a shuddering halt, until they can get that crane mended, or another crane into that same spot. Heaven knows what that delay will cost, per hour.
I hope I get really lucky and get to photo them sorting this out, but am not optimistic. Building contractors are not in the habit of drawing attention to themselves when they are busy building. They just want to be left alone to get on with it. The press-releasing, attention-grabbing phase only gets under way when the building is good and finished.
That ought to be enough text.
I participated in an interesting exchange today at Samizdata, on the subject of this posting, about why I support the Tea Party. But the exchange came towards the end of a longish, and nearly dead now, comment thread, so few will read it, and I at least want to remember what was said.
I disagree with this article for one main reason: the Tea Party has been nearly entirely co-opted by the social conservatives. The small-government folks seem to accept this as a necessary compromise, without realizing that they have lost control of the movement.
If you took a poll of people identifying themselves with the Tea Party, you would find that religious issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc.)) are more important than government spending. From an article from 2011: “Tea Party supporters … are much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on these social issues.” (Emphasis mine)
Farther down in the same article: 42% of Tea Party supporters agree with the conservative Christian movement, while 11% disagree. The remainder are somewhere in the middle, but the dominance is clear.
The Tea Party was a great idea, until the religious zealots got ahold of it ...
Some of what you say is obvious and not bad news at all. None of what you say is definitely bad news.
Much depends, in surveys, on what questions are asked.
It’s obvious that Tea Party Christians get their social issue opinions from their Christianity. Who has ever doubted it? This does not prove that they will use the Tea Party primarily to spread or to enforce these Christian views to or upon others.
Even the claim that they take social issues more seriously than government spending, though suggestive of what you are arguing, does not prove it.
If any question had asked: What do you think the Tea Party is for? Cutting government spending? Or: propagating (or even enforcing) Christian values? Then, the answers would be interesting, and very troubling if the Christians mostly said: For propagating and enforcing Christian values. The government spending stuff is just something we say, in order to spread Christianity.
But a quick read of the piece you link to tells me that no such question was asked, or if it was, the answers was not reported. What this survey seems to be about is what else Tea Partiers tend to believe, besides believing in the Tea Party. Nothing in it surprised me, or lowered, or even altered, my opinion of the Tea Party.
By the way, not only am I a libertarian, I am also a strong atheist. I think Christianity is not just untrue. I think that Christian beliefs about such things as the virgin birth and the meaning of the crucifixion of Christ are downright daft. If I thought that the Tea Party was either founded to create a Christian theocracy or if I ever think in the future that it has degenerated into such an enterprise (as it certainly might), I would not merely stop supporting it, I would, for whatever difference it would make, oppose it. Meanwhile, what seems to unite Tea Partiers now is, see my posting, the belief that the US government does too much, spends too much and borrows too much, and making that idea stick is what the Tea Party is for. Nothing in this survey says otherwise.
I agree that Christians loom very large in the Tea Party, but Christianity is not the Tea Party’s publicly agreed purpose. As of now, I remain optimistic that whereas most Tea Partiers seem to be Christians, and as such profoundly influenced in what they think by their Christianity, these Christians do not think that the purpose of the Tea Party is to spread Christianity, and that the government spending stuff is just a front.
If your response to that is: well, of course they wouldn’t say that. My response to that would be that nothing is this survey settles that particularly argument about what these Christians are trying to accomplish one way or the other. Are you aware of any other evidence that Christian Tea Partiers are actually engaged in a huge deception of this sort? I am not, but that proves very little. What I do know is that your link does not supply such evidence.
An analogy. The libertarian movement seems to consist largely of men. (It’s certainly that way in London.) But this absolutely does not mean that the libertarian movement’s purpose is to spread the idea of male domination of the world generally. To say that “libertarianism has been taken over by men” is sort of true, in the sense that it is indeed mostly men. But as an attempt to describe what the men in the libertarian movement are really trying to accomplish, such an observation would be seriously misleading.
As yet there has been no reply, and probably there won’t be. That’s not itself any sort of argument. Just because you had the last word, if you did, that doesn’t mean you won. Merely that communication ceased.
More to the point, if there is any news or evidence that Tea Party Christians are indeed trying the old Popular Front routine rather than supporting the public agenda of the Tea Party in good faith, I would very much like to learn about it.
Well, I near enough hit the nail on the head with my previous prophecy about the Obama v Romney debates, certainly as far as Debate One was concerned. Deep thanks, again, to Natalie for telling the world. (We’ve yet to see if I am right that Romney will win the whole thing, which is what my posting is really about - the debates were only part of it, but I am more than ever optimistic about that.)
I said Romney would surprise many with his debating excellence, and that Obama would have no answers. Debate one went exactly like that.
At first, everyone said: Who saw that coming? I did!
Then they said: That was actually very predictable! So, why didn’t they predict it? I did!
Let me now throw all my winnings back on the table and hazard some more predictions on the same subject. Romney has a 1-0 debate lead. I now expect the final result to be 3-0.
In response to the claim that Obama is arrogant, lazy, uninvolved, and behaved in Debate One as if he had only to show up to win - in other words to the accusation that he did not show up - Obama will not so much lose his cool as set it to one side. He will argue “passionately” that he must be allowed to finish the job he has started, in other words he will turn up the frenzy nob. He won’t say that what he wants to do is finish off America as most Americans know it and love it, but by the time Romney has explained it back at him, that’s how it will sound. That will be the story of Debate Two.
Debate Three, one way another will be an even greater catastrophe for Obama. He will either go completely berserk, i.e. dial the frenzy nob up even higher, perhaps even to the point of melt-down or just give up, or maybe a bit of both. By the end of Debate Three, he will not just be (pardon the racism) toast. He will be obvious toast. And then he will really be in trouble.
The Mainstream Media are already turning against Obama, as I predicted in that Samizdata meltdown piece already linked to above. This will not improve his mood one little bit.
But it’s not a stampede yet, nothing like. As of now, their story is mostly that Obama failed to present Obama-ism properly, and most are already saying that next time, he’ll be back, and will present it brilliantly in Debates Two and Three.
Apparently Reagan got a bit of a pasting in his first re-election debate with whoever it was. And he then stormed back in the later debates. Obama will do the same, say those still backing him.
But Obama-ism is a crock, see the graphic, which Instapundit found here. I hasn’t worked, it won’t work and it can’t work. Obama’s problem is that while he can perform all he likes, he has now, just as in Debate One, nothing persuasive to say. (As many are now pointing out, the only thing Obama has done for the last two years has been to perform.)
As the above few links illustrate, I am not the only one saying this kind of thing, to put it mildly. But, for what it may be worth, I am now saying it.
It really doesn’t help Obama that his foreign policy has now blown up in his face. This was an area of strength for Obama, because he at least wants to reduce American assertiveness in foreign parts. So he says, anyway. America wants this too, so far as I can tell. (So, I rather think, do I.) The Repubs don’t even pretend to believe this. But now, foreign policy isn’t a story that Obama will find it easy to talk about either.
Oh, and whereas the Rise of Obama was paid for by Arabs, the re-election of Obama is being financed by the Chinese. As the US Mainstream Media desert the Sinking Ship Obama and start trying to suck up to About-To-Be-President Romney, these sorts of stories may get a bit of serious notice, and sink SS Obama some more. That will only add to the impression that Obama’s foreign policy is for foreigners, rather than for Americans.
I told you (in the Romney’s Going To Win Big posting below) that they’d break ranks:
In my opinion Pat Caddell suggests a golden age of mainstream media non-bias that never really existed. But nevertheless, interesting.
I hope this goes viral.
On the other hand, there’s this:
“Obama’s fighting for his life, his party is fighting for their life, and they’re winning. This is, I’ve said all along, this is Romney’s election to lose and by God he’s losing,” Caddell said.
Well, I think Romney is already winning, but I can’t believe he won’t come out of his corner and land a few big blows, come debates time, but maybe he won’t. Like I say, we’ll see.
If I were a betting man, which I am not (or only in the form of blog postings like this one), I would bet that Obama is not just going to lose his forthcoming election, but lose it big. I am not that confident about what follows, which is why it goes here rather than here). It may be wishful thinking, but it is what I have been thinking, and I wanted to get it written down, so that later I can’t strengthen it in my mind if I am right, or blur it if I am wrong.
This guy also thinks this, as do others I have read saying it but have now forgotten the names of.
Of my immediate circle, Michael J has already commented, here, to the effect that he now sees no evidence of a landslide, and that Romney will probably win, but small. What do others of the sort inclined ever to comment at this tiny little ticking-over personal blog think about this?
My reasons are, in no particular order (this is only a tiny little ticking-over personal blog):
The polls are bent towards Obama, by Democrat intimidation. The Dems calculate that if they can persuade Repubs that Romney will lose, some Repubs will say what’s the use? - and stay home. Voters love a winner and are less likely to vote for a loser, or so I keep being told. No doubt this will diminish the Repub vote a bit, but not enough to make the polls an entirely self-fulfilling prophesy. They are still several percentage points out.
The polls are also out by personal inclination. Most of the people who work for these operations are Dems, because Dems are obsessed with politics, Repubs less so. Repub kids get proper jobs like lawn mowing or pool cleaning, or if grown-up, they get actual proper jobs doing regular round-the year stuff for serious money, and if not that is what they are trying to do. These Dem pollsters hear, even if they genuinely try not to, what they want to hear, not least because people tell them what people think they want to hear.
Polls have, in general, been getting ever more inaccurate, as people learn that they can say whatever they hell they like to pollsters, most definitely including nothing. Even the ones sincerely determined to resist pro-Dem bias are still biased thus, somewhat.
In particular, this time around, people still don’t know how to answer the accusation that being anti-Obama is racist. Which is why the Dems keep on using this accusation. People know it isn’t so, but are unpractised at making the necessary subtle distinctions. So, to avoid some presumably pro-Obama person even thinking they are racist, they either lie, or fluff, rather than speak their minds.
All of these polling distortion effects are quite slight, but each is enough to ruin a process where one or two per cent can make all the difference. But, crucially, almost all these effects now point in the same direction. That’s a big effect. I think the polls will be more wrong this time around than ever before.
The economy is not good, and Obama has no story about how to improve it.
In particular, the economy is horrible for young educated people, the ones who voted for Obama in their millions last time around. These people are pissed off, big time. Quite a lot will blame Obama, and will stay at home. Some, under the influence of cool libbo Ron Paul memes, may even switch to Romney. Many are ashamed of how they voted for Obama with such enthusiasm last time, and are not telling the pollsters about this. (See above: the polls are very wrong.)
Obama is pissing all over the Jews. This never works.
The bias of the mainstream media is becoming more obvious now, to a lot of American people. Last time, media bias went with the grain of American opinion, and the media have thus had eight uninterrupted years to degenerate into blatant propaganda operations, and the internet has had eight years to tell everyone that this is so. More than ever before, media bias is now believed in . Again, a matter of degree. But like I say, these degrees all add up. In particular, more now distrust those predictions of Obama victory, and will accordingly refuse to be influenced by them into not bothering to vote.
Romney is not nearly as big a jerk as a lot of disappointed Libbos and Conservatives seem to think, or as Dems hope. He keeps on winning. I think he will do much better in the debates than most others seem to, because he has a story to tell, to and about an opponent who does not. Romney is indeed not a genius debater, but he knows it, and knowing also that he is winning, he will prepare hard and go in with exactly the right amount of and kind of confidence, like a winning sportsman. He will surprise many by how well he does.
Meanwhile Obama, surrounded by yes men, and fatally arrogant, and tired, a fed-up and probably knowing he is going to lose, and having nothing to say, will not prepare well enough for the debates. He faces a near-impossible task, and will not be up to it.
The Dinesh D’Souza movie is hurting Obama, as will stuff like this (Arab money and support to pay for Obama’s career). Americans are now ready to be told what sort of man Obama really is, this time around. First time around, they just voted for the cool black guy, on the grounds that it was damn well time America had itself a cool black guy as President. This time, policies and opinions will count, along with the (very bad) record of the last four years. Obama’s policies and opinions are hurting and will continue to hurt him.
Romney is a cunning bastard politician. His campaign will not only consist of the damaging things about Obama that he himself says. He probably will stay fairly positive. But the negative stuff will get out there, like that Arab money thing.
Romney now has a ton more money than Obama has. Obama has spent most of his trying, and failing, to stay in the race. Romney is about to spend similar quantities drawing ahead.
At some point between now and the election, some who now want Obama to win and are still propagandising for him will realise that he will not win, and will say why, if only to keep their own credibility in place, a bit. They will want, as the saying goes, to keep (some of) their powder dry, in order to (e.g.) trash President Romney and all his works. Obama will respond to these betrayals not with a spirited public rebuttal, but with a resigned shrug, which also will not look good. (A public meltdown is probably too much to hope for, but I hope for it nevertheless.) How pronounced this effect will be is very debatable. Maybe very obvious, maybe almost undetectable, but it will, to some degree happen. Already, to a tiny degree, it is happening.
Well, that’s enough to be going on with. I just wanted to place my little bet, so that if it turns out right I can say: I told you so. But much of the above is guesswork, so, Americans (especially Americans but also all others), please feel free to tell me I am wrong.
And then, we’ll see.
None of the above says that I think that this is the most important political battle in the world right now. Its only major importance would be if Obama were to win. But when (I think) Romney wins, the big questions will remain. How bad are things going to get? How unbadly can President Romney be persuaded to handle them?
For me, the big hero of all this is absolutely not Romney, or even Paul Ryan. It is the collective hero that is the Tea Party.
... I have just posted a piece on how to attach Austrianist answers to un-Austrianist questions.
University of California chickens coming home to roost?
Occupy St Paul’s pictures
Street social services management integrated command sub-centres
The England rugby aftermath
Go Gary Johnson!
The Jobs difference
Freedom Tower and Gary Johnson at Samizdata
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
Kevin Dowd last night
Friday link dump
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
Go Not Obama!
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom not threatened by the end of the Big Thing Boom
That’s what I call a Health and Safety Notice
Absolutely not a private navy (except that it probably is)
Why I prefer blogging to writing for a magazine
Julian Assange drove Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s cat Herr Schmitt crazy
Me and Patrick Crozier talk about the banking crisis and its possible consequences
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Toby Baxendale on what went wrong and what to do about it
Peaceful time in war zone
Tim Evans looking happy
Choosing the best pictures by waiting a few days
At the launch of Alchemists of Loss
Nuking the Oil Spill is probably a rather bad idea
Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalisation today
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Voice and exit
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
Three airplane photos
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Picture of an aftershock of the credit crunch rippling around the world
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
Prodicus (and me) on the shitness of the LibDems
Bercow versus the party which picked him
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
Old Holborn lets rip at Labour in a Guido comment
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
In which this blog indulges in an I Told You So moment concerning Speaker John Bercow
Great speech by Kevin Dowd in Paris which should be available to listen to soon
What Bercow does next
Another politician who looks like a noted comedy actor of yesteryear
What next for Guido Fawkes?
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
My opinion of yesterday’s budget
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
“What did you just say?”
Patri Friedman versus Chris Tame
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
My confusion about free banking
What the previous two postings here have in common
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Kevid Dowd video now up and watchable
Headlines of the times
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Paul Marks on the financial crisis
TARP stuff - and a trip to Sheffield
Meme for the New Depression
Kevin Dowd says what should be done
Evening Standard hand-done billboards go printed shock
Is the contemporary art bubble bursting?
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Photo-ing the news in Evening Standard headlines
Another pendulum theory
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Not the book I want to read right now - maybe later
Obama still won’t do nasty
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
Armed is less dangerous
More Beijing smog-blogging
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
Guido on Gordon
The personal and the political
Paul Marks told us so
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Talking with Antoine about the US election and about libertarian politics in the US and in the UK
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
Tatiana the normal tiger
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
Photoing dusk on automatic
Nothing untoward happening!
Three … thirty six … sixty one … a hundred a forty eight …
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
I know the feeling
Armed police in Hertford hunt big cat
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
What are the world’s biggest problems?
Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology
And further talk at Christian Michel’s about water and power
Islam is evil - and that’s me carrying on normally
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Antoine says why he got the midterms wrong
The West disunited versus the Pesky Muslims
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Antoine Clarke talks with me about votes for women (and teenagers) – and about Sweden
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Something to bore everyone
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Brian and Antoine mp3s now into double figures
Billion Monkeys stop cover-ups!
Listening to Peter Briffa’s first podcast
I won’t be doing any television myself in the near future but in the meantime have a watch of this
4th Generation Warfare in the middle of an advanced Western Country
Car bomb in Bogota
China is economically way ahead of India
Daniel Cuthbert - wrongly convicted “hacker” - and photographer
Phrase of the day
FEMA - not as well informed as the general public
More on Katrina
Two interesting predictions
Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said