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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: Politics

Friday April 17 2015

Abusive internet comments are usually very tedious.  But, having never heard this gag before, I liked this one.

Following the alleged threat by US politician John McCain to kick the s*** out of another US politician, Harry Reid, a commenter commented (April 16 12:43am):

(Harry Reid) – s*** = 0

Here in the UK, our politicians seldom issue such threats to one another.  They are, alas, almost all of them on the same side.

Wednesday April 15 2015

In an earlier posting I mentioned that I had ordered Marc Morris’s book about The Norman Conquest, and I have now started reading this.  (Although for some reason the version of it that I have seems to be the American one.)

Morris takes the Bayeux Tapestry as his starting point (as already discussed here in this and (because of its elongated shape) in this).

The events depicted in the Tapestry are of course highly dramatic, but as Morris relates, so too was the subsequent history of the Tapestry:

By any law of averages, the Tapestry ought not to exist.  We know that such elaborate wall-hangings, while hardly commonplace in the eleventh century, were popular enough with the elite that could afford them, because we have descriptions in contemporary documents.  What we don’t have are other surviving examples: all that comes down to us in other cases are a few sorry-looking scraps.  That the Tapestry is still with us almost I ,000 years after it was sewn is astonishing, especially when one considers its later history. It first appears in the written record four centuries after its creation, in 1476, when it is described in an inventory of the treasury at Bayeux Cathedral, from which we learn that the clergy were in the habit of hanging it around the nave every year during the first week of July (an annual airing that would have aided its conservation).  Its survival through those four medieval centuries, escaping the major hazards of war, fire and flood, as well as the more mundane menaces of rodents, insects and damp, is wondrous enough; that it successfully avoided destruction during the modern era is nothing short of miraculous.  When the cathedral’s treasury was looted during the French Revolution, the Tapestry came within a hair’s breadth of being cut up and used to cover military wagons.  Carted to Paris for exhibition by Napoleon, it was eventually returned to Bayeux, where for several years during the early nineteenth century it was indifferently stored in the town hall on a giant spindle, so that curious visitors could unroll it (and occasionally cut bits off). During the Second World War it had yet more adventures: taken again to Paris by the Nazis, it narrowly escaped being sent to Berlin, and somehow managed to emerge unscathed from the flames and the bombs.  The Tapestry’s post-medieval history is a book in itself - one which, happily, has already been written.

What next for it, I wonder?

Wednesday April 08 2015

Indeed:

Police in India have a new weapon for controlling unruly protesters in the world’s largest democracy: pepper-spraying drones.

Yashasvi Yadav, police chief of the northern city of Lucknow, said on Tuesday that his officers have successfully test-flown the newly purchased drones with a view to better crowd control.

So, when will BrianMicklethwaitDotCom be linking to a story about how the protesters have their own drones, to attack the police drones with?  Drones are not just the automation of aerial warfare.  They are the potential degovernmentalisation of aerial warfare.  I mean, how the hell will they stop this?  Drones are ridiculously cheap compared to regular airplanes.  It’s only a matter of time before no major political demonstratiion will be complete without a struggle for command of the air.

I wonder if people like Police Chief Yadav realise what they may be starting.

Monday March 23 2015

First, an outstanding White Van photo snapped from what looks like the inside of a cafe, by Simon Gibbs, to whom profuse thanks:

image

I’ve been photoing White Vans for a month and more, but have never got three of them in one go like that.  That arrived chez moi first thing this morning.

And then, to my amazement, this was this at Guido, also today:

image

That’s right.  Labour have launched there very own White Van!  You wouldn’t dare make that up.  I knew I was onto something with all this White Vannery.

The problem for the Labour Party here is that Essex White Van Man, the original beast, doesn’t work as an employee driver for Wellocks, or for Office Revival or for Yate Supplies (these being the enterprises who own and whose glory is proclaimed by Simon’s three White Vans above), and certainly not for the Labour Party.  He has his own White Van, which is entirely white, as you can see when you peruse that original tweet that got all this fuss started:

image

That snap being a recent one of mine.  And, as Guido points out, a proper Essex White Van is not a Merc, as the Labour White Van is.  He doesn’t go on to say that it should be a Ford Transit, as above, but it should.  The White Van in the original tweet is a Transit.

This new Labour White Van is supposed to separate Labour from the la-di-da world of London and to assert its connection to the common (i.e. non-rich-London) man.  But it fails to do this, because, as these recent White Van postings of mine have been explaining, White Vans covered in poncey graphics are now quintessentially London.  I assume that they have also become quintessentially Wigan and quintessentially Rotherham and for that matter quintessential Dagenham.  But I further assume that when true-blue Wiganians and Rotherhamians and Dagenhamians look at them, they see, not their local culture, but cultural imperialism by bloody London.

(Damn.  I did everything to this posting put actually post it “today”, so I’m leaving the date I originally attached to it.  Cheating I know but it talks about Monday as today, so Monday it is.)

Monday February 23 2015

This coming Friday I have another of my Last Friday of the Month meetings at my home in London SW1.  This coming Friday is, after all, the last Friday of the month, so the logic is inexorable.  Every Friday (even if the last Friday of, say, December 2014, happened to be Boxing Day, as it was) there is a Last Friday of the Month meeting at my home.

I have been having email problems, in the form of people using gmail suddenly not receiving my emails, so even if you thought you were on my list but hear nothing via email, be assured that this meeting will happen.  Try emailing me (which should work) and then telling your spam filter not to reject my reply, which you will have to do despite it being a particular individual reply.  I know, crazy.  I hope to write more about this problem in a posting at Samizdata, Real Soon Now.

Or, if you intend coming to this particular meeting, you could leave a comment below, and I will respond saying message received and look forward to greeting you.

Anyway, this coming Friday (Feb 27), Pete Comley will be talking about inflation.  He has recently published a book on the subject, which you can learn about in this posting at Comley’s website.  And you can hear what Comley sounds like and a little of how he thinks by listening to this short interview with Simon Rose of Share Radio.

image

The thing about Comley is that he takes a long-term - very long-term - view of inflation.  He began a recent talk I attended by discussing inflation at the time of the Roman Empire.

And in the long-term, there are not one but two major influences on inflation.  There is, of course, the supply of money, by the powers that be who have always insisted upon supplying money.  And when they make too many coins, too many bank notes or create too much bank credit, the price of regular stuff in shops goes creeping, or rocketing, up.  But there is also the demand for that regular stuff.  In particular, human population fluctuates.  At some moments in history, population shoots up.  At other times it falls, or at the very least the rate at which it increases falls.  Just now, in country after country, the birthrate is falling, and that has consequences for inflation.

Before you say it, I’ll say if for you.  Many simply define inflation as the first of these two processes but not the second.  Inflation is what money issuers do to the money supply.  A price rise caused by rising demand is simply not inflation.  It is a mere price rise.  Fair enough.  It certainly makes sense to distinguish these two processes from each other, however hard it may be for consumers to do this when both are happening to them.  And if you do that by restricting the definition of inflation in this way, then be aware that Pete Comley’s talk will be about inflation thus defined and about price rises sparked by rising demand, and for that matter about price stability caused by static demand.  (He says, by the way, that we might be about to enjoy just such a period of price stability.  And although you can never be sure about such things, better handling of the recent financial crisis, and we might have got there already.)

There is also the question of what causes money issuers to inflate, in the second and more restricted sense of inflation.  They seem to do this more at certain historical junctures than at others.  Inflation, restrictively defined, does not just cause bad economic experiences; it is itself caused, more at some times than at others.

All very interesting, or so I think.  Libertarians like me tend to be quite well informed about recent monetary history and about the evils of fiat currencies, the Fed, the Bank of England, and so on and so forth.  We tend to know a lot less about similar episodes in the more distant past to what he have recently experienced.  In general, we are more interested in the fluctuating supply of money than in the way that population fluctuations influence prices.

Pete Comley has a small but particular soft spot for me, on account of me having been the one who drew his attention to this book about the long-term history of prices (The Great Wave by David Hackett Fischer), which seems to have had quite a big influence on his latest book, which is called Inflation Matters.  It certainly does.

Tuesday January 27 2015

Lexington Green, here:

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.

The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan.  If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan.  What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.

Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.

Saturday January 24 2015

Today, a fine looking day, a day in which many were to be seen wearing both gloves and sunglasses, I went awandering, down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then on across the River.

And in Parliament Square, I chanced upon a demo.  I hope to do a longer bit at Samizdata, hopefully tomorrow, about this demo.  In the meantime, here is a little horizontality, helpfully laid on by the demonstrators:

image

Click to get the original bigger picture.

If you want further thoughts from me about “that fatuous construct of political malcontents” called real democracy, follow that link.

And see also what I put in this piece about the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square:

… this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes ...

Today’s demo was exactly your usual demo.  Here is a report of what they were trying to do, that being something to do with “Occupy”.  From where I was standing, they failed.

I couldn’t find mainstream media coverage about this demo between this afternoon and now, which could just mean that there was lots and I didn’t find it.  Comments on that very welcome.

LATER: Here is an Evening Standard report.  It seems that what I saw was a failed Occupy demo, bolted onto the end of a somewhat more successful CND demo against Trident.

ALSO: Daily Mail.

Sunday January 18 2015

At that demo a week ago today, there were, of course, and abundance of smartphones being used to soak up snaps:

image imageimage image

And there were tablets being used as well:

image

But more intriguingly, and this was a first for me, I saw smartphones …:

image

… and tablets …:

image

… being used actually to demonstrate.  And as you can see, I wasn’t the only one who was interested.

I’m not sure what this means.  I simply note that it was happening.

Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
A feline Friday at Guido
Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
BMdotcom comment of the day
At the ASI Christmas Party
How the internet is cheering up Art
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
Two guys on Westminster Bridge photoing ice creams in front of the Houses of Parliament
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
Boris bus malfunction
Helter Skelter scrapped
Rob took photos
On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
Postrel goes for Gray
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom musical quote of the day
Something at Samizdata
5G Boris
ASI Boat Trip 8: Bridges
Cat news
Football comment
New London bridge competition
ASI Boat Trip 4: Groups of posing people
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
I need a new passport but just now passports are a problem
Ubernomics
Emmanuel Todd talking in English (about how the Euro is doomed)
The Lib Dem cat is out of the box
Lilburne on a T-shirt and Lilburne on a mug
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
The Mayor and the towers
Green screen blue screen
Amusing cats versus important people
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Other things last Wednesday
Faberge - Brutalism
Good question
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
Slightly wider tube trains
Comrade Blimp
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
Guido in the Spectator (and in Free Life)
Algernon Sidney sends for Micklethwait because Micklethwait is wise, learned, diligent, and faithful
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
I’ve just been quotulated
Is this the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Roof Clutter?
Craig Willy on Emmanuel Todd
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Quotes of the day
Reflections on and in Westminster Tube Station
American election talk
Pollsters can’t say where things are but they can say which way they’re going
“No one has to know!”
Ryan wins
Are Christian social conservatives using the Tea Party to impose social conservatism?
Don’t vote Democrat!
Reasons to think Romney is going to win big
Michael Jennings on how the taxis at Skopje airport are an evil racket and what he did about it
How llamas told us so – in November 2008
The strange state of the enviro-argument
Dream and reality in Mumbai
Literally the light switch of leadership
Jobs
There’s a Communist in the White House
Steve Baker MP
The England rugby aftermath
Jarrod Kimber on biased cricket commentators
Go Gary Johnson!
Freedom Tower and Gary Johnson at Samizdata
Friday link dump
Three videos from the USA that I recently watched
A potential challenger for Gary Not-Obama
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
The Armstrong Gun
After the wedding
Go Not Obama!
Excellent new word
Everything competes with everything
Wisconsin question
Wot inflationz?
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom quote of the year so far
Me and Patrick Crozier talk about the banking crisis and its possible consequences
Emmanuel Todd quoted and Instalanched
The Green alliance
A down and up weekend
BrianMicklethwait Dot Com QotD
Malcolm Hutty on protecting the internet
“I was banished to a separate room …”
MP’s kitten custody battle
James Waterton on a very smart very dumb Russian
Another link enema
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
Links to this and that
Perfectly clear politics
Ums and ahs
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
At the launch of Alchemists of Loss
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
Frank J random thought for the day
A demonstration I could join
Paul Marks on why the ex Prime Minister of Japan is not like Obama
Steve Davies lecture - photoing and videoing the lecture - post-lecture chat
One child poster
Brightly lit buildings against a dark sky
Darling and Darling cat
Gordon Brown proves Guido was right about him from the start and Ed Balls not nice either shock
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
I flipping told him
Tim Evans talks about David Cameron
Voice and exit
Man photographed by women!
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
The right to photograph
Those angry Americans
How some cats are dividing Cyprus
Lord Baxendale?
A great Johnathan Pearce Britain-can-dump-the-EU blog posting - and the value of informative titles
Antoine Clarke on the recent US elections: still a conservative nation
Going global
American video
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
Gordon Brown dithers about rugby - cricket’s on the up
Prodicus (and me) on the shitness of the LibDems
Bercow versus the party which picked him
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Unfair advantage?
Why I vote against AGW
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
Prize idiots
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
Making the IOC feel important with a personal lubricant
Old Holborn lets rip at Labour in a Guido comment
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
At least libertarianism is understood over there
In which this blog indulges in an I Told You So moment concerning Speaker John Bercow
Pull Tab
Alex Ross on Sibelius
The curse of Gordon Brown is now ruining the England cricket team
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
What Bercow does next
Tienanmen + Twitter = Teheran
Hislop fluffs the rhyme
Another London lump?
Great photo of David Blunkett
Why I also don’t much like John Bercow
Minimum Wage flatvert at Guido’s and Iain Dale’s
Labour down – silly parties up
Photographers in bother
What The State looks like
Indy Flatverts and a Guido Q&A
Bloke in posh suit holding Real Photographer camera like it’s a Billion Monkey camera!
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
Anti-politics versus (or just and) the heroic delusion
Croziervision of default
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?”
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
Signs of the times in Belfast
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Someone called Rick wants me to puke on President Obama
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
Do nothing?
Random links
Michael Jennings on shoring up the bad old economy versus building a good new one
Quota quotes from Wodehouse
Colonial Governor’s Mansion dwarfed by modernity
Lang Lang crushes Yundi Li!
It’s over
Ruminating about politics and ideology
Media bias as asset stripping
Another pendulum theory
Metaphor muddle alert
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Antoine Clarke on the financial turmoil and the US election
Gordon Brown to guarantee everything
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Family get-together
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Might Gordon Brown pull an EU referendum rabbit out of the hat?
Obama still won’t do nasty
Chivalry and the mad feminists
“She put the governor’s jet up on e-Bay …”
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
North Carolina Billion Monkeys mad for Obama!
Official bias
It’s blue!
The writing on the wall
Switching from dumb bombing to smart bombing
If the Jews have been running the world they haven’t been doing it very successfully
Armed is less dangerous
The British Public continues to dislike too-high-and-rising taxes
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Bird’s Nest in smog
A new British citizen
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
Freedom of information
Guido Fawkes gets Douglas Jardine wrong
What I have seen so far while abroad
Guido on Gordon
Those were the days and these are no longer the days
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
“Let’s get cracking tomorrow.  Let’s have a drink tonight.”
Politics again …
Voting for Boris?
The Messina Suspension Bridge is on again
The personal and the political
“Better value on goods and services across a wide range of categories …”
Paying a visit to Mum
Slow day here
Paul Marks told us so
Dominic Lawson on Herbert von Karajan
Nothing there
F1 athletics?
Pillocks
Talking with Antoine about the US election and about libertarian politics in the US and in the UK
Not a hot day in January for the Billion Monkeys!
The Puerto Rican candidate
Theodore Dalrymple on the menace of honest public officials and much else besides
The Shard is a Middle Eastern skyscraper but in London that still counts
Obama a loser?
Antoine Clarke on the US Primaries – either Obama will beat McCain or McCain will beat Clinton
LAHTML
Blogging – the end of the beginning
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
The new South Bank
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Holiday
Great but not great
No number two in Venezuela
Probably not right - but definitely written
“Don’t burn your bridges before they’re hatched …”
The bridge that was going to make Westminster a fine city and London a desert
The UK is not crowded
“How much better …?”
From 100 to 1 in movie quotes and Gordon is a moron
Socialising with the Social Media
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Nothing untoward happening!
Bush on Cuba
Architecture talk
Will China fail?
The Emperor Jones
Potlatch wisdom
Lib Dems edge towards school choice
End the medical monopoly!
Antoine Clarke on the French National Assembly elections
Don’t be a physics teacher
Ugly logo(s)
Is Jeremy Paxman a closet libertarian?
A surprising outburst of truth
Antoine Clarke on Sarkozy
Left behind?
Volte-face
Antoine on Sarko’s win
Serious tax cutting
If they don’t get who they would have preferred then silly them
“What do YOU think?” - “More -isationisation!”
Billion Monkeys photo their own demo!
The Conservatives prepare for power
Darrin M. McMahon and me and George Orwell on the pursuit of happiness
Charm defensive
Some plain English
Not cool and cool
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Church dwarfed by modernity
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Whatever it is and no matter how illegal it already is … there ought to be a law against it!
One man one blog
So what’s this about then?
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology
More on the Lib Dems
Antoine says why he got the midterms wrong
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries
Do the Lib Dems just tell everyone what they each of them want to hear?
Hands off the Net
Oscar Wilde defends society
How blogging is making Conservatives more polite to each other
Antoine Clarke talks with me about votes for women (and teenagers) – and about Sweden
29th and 14th
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Misprints
Jeffrey Archer - blogger
Guido’s narrative
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 on democracy etc. - UK, Latin America, China
One for Global Guido to celebrate
Antoine gets Mexican election right
The latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Brian and Antoine democracy mp3 number twelve
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
This is Iain Dale’s seventh favourite non-aligned blog
Brian and Antoine mp3s now into double figures
Billion Monkey snaps shadow chancellor!
Brian and Antoine number 9
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
At last - the latest mp3 from me and Antoine
Jack Stravinsky
Young People models for Old People
On style and politics
The latest Electionwatch mp3
Pie error
Must
The latest Brian and Antoine Election Watch podcast and some thoughts on democratic nastiness
More election podcasting
Election Watch podcast number three
American partisans and American voters
More from Antoine Clarke about elections around the world
A second podcast (and it was rather too long)
On stand-up comedy and politics
Changing the names of cities
Antoine Clarke
Charles Rosen on Richard Taruskin and on the socially unbound nature of some of the greatest music
The many faces of the LibDems
Help the struggle against DRM!
Iain Dale
“The Internet has also brought a new class of people into politics”
He loved my book
Talking about my generation
“The basis is economic development”