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

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Category archive: Current events

Friday May 27 2016

Nothing much here today, but I just did three Samizdata postings today and yesterday:

Brexit – the argument from confusion.

Dominic Frisby takes on the Edinburgh Fringe

Islam versus cat photos

I have always felt that the fascination with cats that has engulfed the internet was somehow more important than just being a matter of cat photos, engulfing the internet.  Now it seems that cat photos are a threat to Islam, and must be forbidden.  For me, cats means pure fun.  No purpose is served.  Other than the purpose (purrpuss) of having fun.  And it seems that there is this crazy Sheikh who also thinks that photoing cats is pure fun also, and that this is why photoing cats should be forbidden.  For him, I guess, fun is never pure.  Quite the opposite.

Thursday May 26 2016

One of my regular automatic google-searches is “face recognition”, and just now this has been alerting me to all the various tricks that are coming on stream for making face recognition not work, by putting on make-up, or spectacles, and such like.

Here is my contribution to this discussion:

image

I know what you’re thinking.  Who might that be?

Exactly.  Although, if you’re are supercomputer, you have probably worked it out.  You have a special programme which tells you to take particular interest in any faces that are trying to not be recognised.

Most of my libertarian friends think that such tech solutions are the front line of this battle.  I have long assumed that the world is moving rapidly towards a state where the question of what is X doing at the moment is technologically answerable, and impossible to prevent being answered.  For me, among other desirable things, libertarianism is the claim that although we can see X saying or doing something we don’t approve of, we shouldn’t legally prevent him or her from doing that, unless it is really, really bad.

In a world of Total Surveillance by the Big Machine, the proliferation of stupid rules and regulations with no huge moral content becomes a problem like it never used to be.  I means rules about things like what you should eat or smoke or, now, say in conversation.  Rules like that mean that we can all now be seen and heard breaking such rules.  (Okay, maybe not now, maybe not yet, but that’s where things are headed.) And that means that anyone who wants to fuck up your life or my life (for an actual real reason that has bugger all to do with the stupid rule actually being broken) can then do it.  Worse, some legislative maniac might demand that anyone that the Big Machine sees breaking this or that rule that he personally is obsessed about, should be automatically fucked over, by the Big Machine, with no human intervention involved.  With a big long list of exceptions, like legislators.  The Big Machine can’t touch them.  Libertarianism has arisen, partly, because it has become ever more necessary to insist on certain principles, principles which were imposed upon the world in former times by sheer ignorance of what other people were getting up to.

The other thing people have to do is develop thicker skins, psychologically speaking I mean, because although legislative pressure is not now a problem for most people, social pressure can become a big problem, for example if you find yourself being mobbed on the internet for some innocuous thing you said or ate.  Just because a million idiots on the internet are screeching that you are an idiot, that doesn’t mean you are, or that if you are, it matters.  When it does matter, bosses should chill, and not fire people just because the mob is screeching.  I applaud, tentatively, the recent tendency to give social media mobsters a going-over, using the same methods on them that they have been using.  Who is this mad bitch?  What has she (it does often seem to be she) been up to lately?  What is her job?  Who is her boss?  Etc.  (In the age of cyber-bullying, I feel that I now understand witchcraft crazes better.)

Another problem is that as something easily mistaken for a state of everyone knowing everything increasingly pertains, that old illusion that everything will accordingly be centrally plannable is likely to keep rearing its very ugly head, and keep on having to be experienced as a disastrous illusion.  (More libertarianism.) The point is, everyone doesn’t know everything.  Nothing like.  We can’t.  Our heads aren’t big enough, and even if they were, knowledge is not like that.  Everyone can known anything in particular that is easy to know (like where X is just now) that they want to know and ask the Big Machine about.  That’s entirely different from actual omniscience.

Friday March 11 2016

I learned a lot (big thank you to the invaluable Guido Seen Elsewhere section) from Leslie Loftis about why the sort of person who likes him likes Ted Cruz:

The stubbornness against Cruz is personal. We are fellow Houstonians. I know many people who have worked with him and many more who know someone who has. I’ve followed his career since late 2010 when my husband asked me to look into a lawyer named Ted Cruz, former solicitor general. Word in the Texas lawyer circles was that he wanted to challenge Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for retiring Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat. It was an impossible task according to the conventional wisdom. But many of the grassroots conservatives were tired of the party’s conventional wisdom.

Cruz covered every county in Texas, and he won votes with every hand he shook. People liked his ideas, and they liked him. He went from two per cent name recognition to an early call and huge victory in the Republican primary. (In Texas, that is the election.) I was there, and I liked what I saw.

But that is the people. And his staff. They are loyal. Intellectuals and party players, and the friends of those intellectuals and party players, however, sound like George W. Bush, “I just don’t like that guy.”

I’ve asked for substantive objections. They don’t come. Even the personality objections lack details. “Not nice.” Stories like mine about the kiss or videos of a dad taking a moment to airplane with his daughter, those don’t get air.

I’ve come to the same conclusion as this citizen journalist, “I believe what these elitists hate the most is that they feel that Ted Cruz looks down on them. Ted Cruz doesn’t respect them because they have money, or because they went to Harvard, or because they are men of power. Ted Cruz is motivated by principle, not class. Ted Cruz has a political agenda and a love of constitution that overrules loyalty to his Ivy League brethren.”

For the egos of his Ivy League brethren and their friends, we are jeopardising our Republic. Because they “just don’t like that guy”, we risk nominating the fickle and hardly likeable Donald Trump for president and actually electing the conniving Hillary Clinton. The American experiment is at stake, and our elites are pouting that the man rising to lead is not their kind of guy.

True, he is not. And that is why the people like him.

All of which only serves to flesh out some of things said by Tom Grey in a comment he recently attached to my earlier Cruz piece.

In my opinion, an amazing proportion of the trouble in the world is caused by men - mostly it is men - disagreeing about their relative importance in the world.  The GOP’s top dogs think they are topper dogs than young whippersnapper Cruz, but Cruz does not acknowledge this, because he’s a whippersnapper.  Which is why the voters like Ted Cruz and why the GOP elite hate Ted Cruz.

It’s now looking like Cruz may be the Sun Tzuist, rather than Trump.  And it looks as though the long-term significance of the Trump phenomenon may be that he is clearing the path for Cruz, by making a sufficient number of Republicans like Cruz, simply because he is not Trump.  More probably, there is no Sun Tzu happening here.  This is just how it happens to be turning out.

More anti-Trumpery here.  Summary: Trump won’t stand up to detailed scrutiny.  For starters, he ain’t nearly as rich as he pretends.

All of which is great for people like me and Tom Grey, who like Cruz because he is Cruz.

On the other hand … Trumpophrenia strikes again.

Thursday March 10 2016

I like to photo the covers of newspapers and magazines.  Such snaps can be very evocative, when looking back at them.

One of the more memorable of such snaps recently was this:

image

The whole Brexit argument seems to be turning into a clash of pessimisms.  Which would be more ghastly?  Britain staying in or Britain getting out? 

Here is a piece that argues that Brexit would be ghastly, for the EU.  As well as all the hoo-hah about refugees, there’s also the little matter of the EU economy collapsing.  If Brexit happens, so might that.

So, will the Remainiacs argue, come the Referendum, that we must stay in, to save EUrope?  Could be.  The argument will be: if we leave, that will wreck EUrope, and that will wreck Britain.

And the Leavers will say: well, if EUrope is a wreck waiting to happen, we’d do better to get out.  Whatever happens, the immediate future looks terrible.  If we get out, at least we could then look toward our own longer term future with a bit of optimism.  We will save ourselves by our exertions, and then EUrope by our example, bascially by turning EUrope back into Europe.  Brexit will be like Dunkirk.

There has for some time now, I think, been a breed of “national” politician – Cameron and Osborne are such – whose first loyalty is to the global elite and to such enterprises as the EU, rather than to their own mere countries.  They are not really our leaders anymore.  They are more like District Commissioners for The Empire.

Personally, I do not oppose The Empire just because it is an Empire.  I oppose The Empire, now, because I don’t think the Imperialists are running it very well.  And I favour Brexit now both because I think that, on balance, Brexit will be better for Britain, and because the Imperialists need a good kick up the bum.  More politely, I think these people should stop being so “anti-patriotic”.  They need to stop regarding patriotism as their enemy.

More exactly and less windily, the Imperialists also need to follow better financial policies.  I think they are more likely to do this if Britain competes with EUrope than if Britain is a province of EUrope.  And what might these policies be?  Well, the world needs competing currencies, both because the best of these will be quite good, and because they will stir the world’s fiat currencies into being better.  That’s more likely to happen if the world consists of a looser affiliation of semi-sovereign states than a tight Empire of provinces, ruled unchallengeably by Cameron, Osborne, and their gaggle of rich, powerful, and actually somewhat stupid, friends.

Sunday March 06 2016

I recently said here that I was finding it to be a pleasure to be contemplating the rise and rise of Donald Trump, but I also said that it was a guilty pleasure, and I really meant that.  Mostly, the phrase “guilty pleasure” is used to describe a pleasure that is merely rather uncool, like liking Abba even before the gays did, which is exactly what I did because I liked them as soon as I first heard them win the Eurovision Song Contest, and this despite their absurd trousers.  But that’s not a “guilty pleasure”.  A guilty pleasure is when you enjoy something immoral, like Donald Trump and Donald Trump doing well.  There was never anything morally wrong about Abba, and I never felt in the slightest bit guilty about liking them.

The immorality of Donald Trump is that he is the living embodiment of crony capitalism, and crony capitalism is the problem, not the solution.  He might become a good President, but only if he turns over an entirely new leaf and starts believing in non-crony capitalism.  This is not impossible.  Having been one of these creatures himself, Trump may at least be able to spot other creatures of this genus, and he may decide that whereas being a crony-capitalist was good for him, a super-abundance of crony-capitalists is bad for America.

But why take the chance?  Just as likely is that Trump will carry right on being a crony-capitalist, this time by obliging all the other crony-capitalists with little slices of his Presidential power, and charging them each a fee.

Based on what little I know of him, Cruz seems like the least worst Presidential candidate with a serious chance of winning, and now it is starting to look as if he just might win.  I said in that earlier piece that Trump was going to walk it, but now it seems he might not even stagger it.  Cruz might win.  I have liked Cruz ever since I heard an interview someone did with him, during which Cruz revealed that he was enthusiastically pro the Constitution of the United States.  Wow, that’s subversive talk, of the kind that I personally like a lot.

Here is how a commenter ("Prince of Whitebread"), on the piece linked to above, puts it:

I would ask the Trump supporters why Trump continues to get press and airtime far in excess of the others.  Answer: Trump is the Candidate the MSM wants to face Hillary. The PajamaBoy Press soils their onesies every time they contemplate Ted Cruz debating Abuela Hillary. They know he’d destroy her with logic, facts, the Constitution, and her own gymnast principles.

“Abuela” is, I believe, the Spanish for Granny.

So, are the hoards of Trump enthusiasts now starting to agree with such anti-Trumpery, and to switch to the man that the establishment truly hates and truly fears?  Would Cruz winning the Republican nomination, and in due course the Presidency, be a non-guilty pleasure?  Or is he just another version of the establishment?  Is he terrible too?

LATER: Roger L. Simon:

Which leads me to the real topic: Trumpophrenia. I suffer from it and it’s only getting worse. I change my opinion about Donald almost every five minutes - and I can’t be the only one. There may be millions of us.

I am not alone.

Friday March 04 2016
Saturday October 31 2015

It seems that I am not the only one reminiscing about photos taken nearly a decade ago.  The Atlantic is now doing this, with the help of NASA and its Cassini orbiter, and the Cassini orbiter’s oresumably now rather obsolete camera:

Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, Enceladus (504 kilometers or 313 miles across), is the subject of much scrutiny, in large part due to its spectacular active geysers and the likelihood of a subsurface ocean of liquid water. NASA’s Cassini orbiter has studied Enceladus, along with the rest of the Saturnian system, since entering orbit in 2004. Studying the composition of the ocean within is made easier by the constant eruptions of plumes from the surface, and on October 28, Cassini will be making its deepest-ever dive through the ocean spray from Enceladus - passing within a mere 30 miles of the icy surface. Collected here are some of the most powerful and revealing images of Enceladus made by Cassini over the past decade, with more to follow from this final close flyby as they arrive.

Here is a picture of Enceladus taken on June 10th 2006:

image

That is picture number 25, or rather, a horizontal slice of it.

Beyond Enceladus and Saturn’s rings, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is ringed by sunlight passing through its atmosphere. Enceladus passes between Titan and Cassini ...

That’s right.  Those two horizontal, ever so slightly converging white lines and the edge of the Rings of Saturn.

Picture number 10 is even more horizontalisable:

image

A pair of Saturn’s moons appear insignificant compared to the immensity of the planet in this Cassini spacecraft view. Enceladus, the larger moon is visible as a small sphere, while tiny Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers across) appears as a tiny black speck on the far left of the image, just below the thin line of the rings.

That one was taken on November 4th 2011.

My thanks, for the second time in as many days, to 6k for pointing me to these amazing images.

Wednesday October 14 2015

Today I did a Samizdata posting about Corbyn and his atrocious supporters, and I celebrate that fact with this photo, taken on the last day of last month, of Labour Leader Corbyn, made to look like he has reached his level of incompetence:

image

Moments later I took another photo, of a bus.  I am now officially photoing any London double decker bus of the new Boris variety, provided that it is entirely covered with an advert:

image

The point being that just as Black Cabs are not by any means always black, so too, London’s famed double decker buses are by no means always red.

This particular advert certainly worked, because I am drinking cider right now.  But, not of the variety advertised on this bus.

Corbyn – and an advert bus
Early thoughts on the Rugby World Cup
A testicle eating killer fish headline and drone dramas
On photos and headlines
William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Photoing and communicating the devastation of Tianjin
Smoke over west London
An interesting front page story
Oh yes it could
Pepper-spraying drones
Drone on the White House lawn
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Russia unleashes tiger on China
Ubernomics
Michael Jennings talking about Russia this Friday
A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
The Met swoops on the Adams Family
Mark Steyn on Obama’s Hoover Dam and me on paywalls
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
The Walkie Talkie and its surroundings
Interesting software NewZ
Craig Willy on Emmanuel Todd
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
New crane up
Close-up of the ruined Vauxhall crane
Are Christian social conservatives using the Tea Party to impose social conservatism?
Some more presidential debate prophecy
Pat Caddell on mainstream media bias
Reasons to think Romney is going to win big
And on my other personal blog …
Meow
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
Quota choke?
That’s what I call a Health and Safety Notice
Cat news
Absolutely not a private navy (except that it probably is)
Wisconsin question
Why I prefer blogging to writing for a magazine
Wot inflationz?
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
Photographic coup
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?
Go Gordon!
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
Not cricket
Do nothing?
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
Banks
Obama still won’t do nasty
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
Clang
Turmoil
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
Personal choice
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
Volte-face
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!
Rubble
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
Treacle
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!
Trouble
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
Those cartoons
Cloudscape
4th Generation Warfare in the middle of an advanced Western Country
Riotous assemblies
Car bomb in Bogota
China is economically way ahead of India
Daniel Cuthbert - wrongly convicted “hacker” - and photographer
Phrase of the day
Get back
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