Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Rob Fisher on Round headlights equals an old car
Rob Fisher on ASI Boat Trip 7: Other photographers
6000 on Nine reflections
Simon Gibbs on The River Thames carpet
Brian Micklethwait on The River Thames carpet
Simon Gibbs on The River Thames carpet
Alan Little on The localness of London's weather
Michael Jennings on Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Friday Night Smoke on The River Thames carpet
Michael Jennings on Bombardier Embrio
Most recent entries
- Quota selfie from 2006
- ASI Boat Trip 7: Other photographers
- Nine reflections
- The localness of London’s weather
- Round headlights equals an old car
- The River Thames carpet
- Cats … on scaffolding … with shadows …
- Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
- ASI Boat Trip 6: Crowd scenes
- Self-healing concrete
- Bombardier Embrio
- Football comment
- Quota bird
- ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Communities Dominate Brands
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Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
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Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
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Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
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Here Comes Everybody
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Politics
I have just done a comment at Samizdata, on this (about the recently concluded football World Cup in which England did its usual rather badly (although it did at least get there)), saying this:
I agree with the first comment, about how, if individualism explains this, England (England perhaps more than Britain) ought to be winning tennis, golf, swimming etc., routinely.
I think much depends on what a country (to use collective shorthand) just considers important, for several years rather than just for a few weeks. Like it or hate it (personally I hate it) Britain, definitely including England, put in a mighty effort (both individual and collective) to make a success (but damn the cost) of the 2012 Olympics, both as an event and by winning a ton of medals.
But from what I hear from football fans, English football takes winning the Premier League, and then doing well in European club competition, more seriously than doing well in the World Cup. The feeling I get is that the winning England footballer is the one who makes the most money throughout his career. A former Spurs manager recently talked about how some of his players would fake injury, and wanted his help to do this, to avoid being picked for England. That would knacker them to no personal career purpose.
Plus, there is this huge split between regular English fans who support their clubs week in week out, and people like me who watch the World Cup but not a lot else. That Germany Brazil game was the most memorable football game in years, for me. For a proper fan, it would be some obscure promotion battle or an amazing away draw against a European club that got their team to the last sixteen of the Champions League, or whatever. For a Man U supporter it would be that remarkable last ditch win against Bayern in the Champions League final.
Sadly, I think politicians have a big influence on this. The kind of power and money they command doesn’t make successful countries out here in the real world (Brazil, Argentina, etc.), quite the reverse. But it can make national sporting effort more successful, if by that you mean more medals and trophies. Angela Merkel is a big fan of her now triumphant football team. I wonder what else she and Germany’s other politicians did to support them, other than her showing up for lots more of their games than she had to.
Sport. War by other means. Discuss.
That last point is one I definitely want to write about more in the nearish future. How A-bombs and H-bombs have made all out war between Great Powers impossible, and caused an unprecedented outbreak of peace between Great Powers, and thus caused national rivalry to express itself in sport rather than war. That kind of thing.
City A.M. has a report about another possible bridge across the Thames, this one being one that will connect Chelsea to Battersea. There is another map here, also showing all the various options for where exactly to put this bridge. And I see that I already mentioned this Chelsea to Battersea bridge idea in this earlier posting.
This makes three new London bridges that are now being talked up, planned, hustled, whatever. There is also the Joanna Lumley bridge, which will go from Temple tube station to across the river from Temple Tube station, or then again maybe not. Both this and the Chelsea to Battersea bridge are footbridges and bikebridges, but they are also forever talking about a big road bridge just down river from City Airport.
If this Chelsea to Battersea bridge gets built, it will be only a dozen minutes (two to three dozen minutes if I want to get close) from my front door, so you can bet that (although I promise nothing) I will be photographing its progress relentlessly.
I hope they make it look good. Bridges can look so great that it is a serious shame when they don’t look great. It’s good that they’re going to have a competition for this one. This, I think, will unleash a contemporary force that is starting to interest me a lot, which is internet informed public opinion. Now, all the various contending pictures of what they might or might not do can get published and talked about beforehand, far more easily than in the years B(efore the) I(nternet). The people who rule the world basically don’t care exactly where, or even if, this bridge gets built, so they are perfectly willing to let its final design be settled by Vox Pop. And Vox Pop, when it comes to bridges, is a force for good, I think. If you are going to spend 8X million quid on a bridge, you might as well spend 9X million quid and make it look really good and distinctive. That’s what I think Vox Pop will say, and for once I agree.
LATER ON FRIDAY (i.e. not the small hours of Friday morning): More bridgery today from City A.M., this time in the form of a plug for that East London road bridge, already mentioned above.
The key moment for me on that boat trip came near the beginning, when Eamonn Butler, Joint Head Person of the Adam Smith Institute asked me to send in any good photos that I took.
Until that moment, I had not been sure whether photography was really tolerated, let alone encouraged. But I took that as an invite to snap away all evening. (It wasn’t that really, but that’s how I chose to interpret it.)
The bread-and-butter shot when photoing occasions like this one is the posed group. People in groups, who are friends, or who are maybe becoming friends, and who know that they are being photographed, are duly photographed, resulting in pictures like most of these ones:
Photos 1.1, 2.3 and 4.2 don’t quite fit the posed group template, because here the people in the shot aren’t posing for it, merely being photoed. But the message is much the same. Here are some attractive, intelligent, companionable young people, having a good time in each other’s company. They believe in libertarianism and free markets, and are going to make that count for something in the years and decades to come. Socially isolated human atoms they are not.
3.1 is also a bit of a departure from the norm, but you want a bit of craziness at such events. If absolutely everyone is being nice and polite and well behaved, then it ain’t a proper party. Once again, Mr Arm Tattoo (the previous posting in this series featured that same Arm getting itself a drink) contributes a bit of quirkiness and danger to the event. When I was a kid, only self-declared professional criminals had tattoos like that, or so I was raised to believe. At best, people who worked at fair grounds. Those days are now long gone.
I will go on saying that the tower, as featured in all these photos that I recently photoed, ...:
... should be called the Spray Can, until everyone is calling it the Spray Can. Or the Spraycan, that’s optional.
Or until someone comes up with an (even) better name.
But meanwhile, what shall we call the ”Salesforce” Tower?
The new name should please the residents but piss off Salesforce, for renaming towers all over the damn place, and make them wish they hadn’t attempted this in London. Salesfuck. Something along those lines. Not good enough, because too profane to be printed in regular newspapers. Salesfarce? Failsforce? Close enough to Salesforce to make the connection. But insulting. To Salesforce. The obvious thing would be to just carry on calling it the Heron Tower, but I don’t think that will punish these Salesfuckers nearly enough. Their stupid name needs to be dragged audibly through the mud.
In case you are wondering, yes I am still a libertarian. Capitalism, hurrah! But the thing is, when you complain about a business doing something really annoying, there’s quite a decent chance they may stop, or at least, if they persist, be commercially punished. At the very least there is a decent chance you can make whoever did whatever it was squirm a little, and generally be made a bit of a prat of. When you complain about the government, there is much less chance of any such good stuff happening. No way will you get, e.g., refund. Just another bill to clean up whatever the original mess was.
So, complaints against capitalism are rewarded, by capitalism. Complaints against governments are not rewarded nearly so much, by governments or by anything else.
So guess which, in defiance of all sanity, you get more of.
That’s quite profound, I think. (This is why I like tangenting. See below.)
I plan to be going to the land of the foreign people. Quite soon. Early August. The air tickets are already bought. But, have just discovered that my passport needs renewing. It gave up the ghost in about February.
Bugger. Passports are just now being particularly delayed. Questions are being Asked In The House about it. So I guess they are now throwing money at the problem.
There is also a throw money at it option for us punters, about an extra hundred quid, which I have in mind to use, just to make sure that all goes well. But first I have to get a haircut and then I have to get some “passport photos” done. I know how to take photos of myself. I do not know how to take “passport photos”. This is why God invented shops.
This morning, did an SQotD about Uber.
Other Perry (Metzger) added this:
Uber does not always offer cheaper service. They operate on a market pricing mechanism to assure availability.
This means that, for example, on New Year’s Eve in NYC, you are assured you can get an Uber car even though normal taxis are essentially unavailable because of excess demand, but you will also discover the Uber car will be quite expensive. This is, of course, as it should be — the spike in price encourages as many Uber drivers as possible to work during a rush period. However, it is also decried by those who do not understand economics.
You could turn this around and say that Uber will be a sort of ongoing economics lesson for the citizenry.
Libertarians like me are always going on about how prices are a signalling mechanism. Uber makes this extremely clear, I think.
About every other day Google sends me news of Emmanuel Todd, news in French. Sometimes it is news of him talking on video, in French. I can just about order a croissant in a French shop, but that’s as far as my French goes.
So, imagine my delight on learning about this video, of Emmanuel Todd talking … in English!
What he is saying is that the different family systems of Europe mean that the different nations of Europe are politically incompatible, and accordingly that the Euro is doomed. Worth a watch, if that kind of thing interests you. In particular, the way that the Euro is putting Germany in charge of France is not at all what the French elite had in mind, and this means that sooner or later the French will have to dump the Euro. But first, their elite has to explain why it made this hideous blunder in the first place. Because dumping the Euro would mean admitting they should never have done it in the first place.
Tim Evans recently gave a talk to the End of the World Club (silly name, great talks) about politics, David Cameron’s politics in particular. He said that Cameron has no problem with Britain leaving the EU, while he remains Prime Minister. Sure enough, about two days later, an email from Tim arrives, complete with the link, saying: And so it starts ...
It’s over for the Liberal Democrats. They may not realise it, but it is. Before the 2010 general election, the party was pursuing two contradictory strategies at the same time. On the one hand, it presented itself as a moderate, centrist party, liberal on both social and economic issues, broadly pro-business if occasionally interventionist. On the other, it was a radical, anti-war alternative to Labour.
As long as the party was in opposition, these two stories could be maintained simultaneously. As with Schrödinger’s cat, both states were, so to speak, co-existential. But, when the Lib Dems entered government, the box was opened. Only one version of events could now be true. And it was clear which version that had to be.
Nick Clegg could no longer lead a protest party of the Left: half his voters had walked away in disgust at his deal with The Evil Heartless Tories. The Lib Dems’ sole remaining option was to make the Coalition work, to show themselves to be competent and responsible, to make a virtue out of having put the national interest first. To behave, in short, like an adult party of government.
Oh, dear. For once, the string of mixed metaphors that the Daily Mail often makes its house style is apt: “The poison at the heart of the Liberal Democrat party burst into the open last night after an explosive resignation statement which rocked the political establishment…” The impression of haplessness and hopelessness, to say nothing of nastiness, is overwhelming.
The Lib Dems have, in short, managed to make a mess of both strategies, showing all the inept crankery of a party of permanent opposition, but without any commensurate principles. Schrödinger’s cat lies cold and stiff.
What a miserable, tawdry end for a party with such noble antecedents. ...
Actually, this Schrödinger’s cat metaphor is itself pretty chaotic, because the question originally posed by Schrödinger was not: What kind of cat is Schrödinger’s cat? It was: Is Schrödinger’s cat alive or already dead in the box? Hannan’s own piece is about both what sort of Lib Dems the Lib Dems are, and about whether the Lib Dems are themselves, now, alive or dead, on account of them previously having been contradictory things. What the Lib Dems were concealing was the contradiction between two different versions of the Lib Dems, not the possibility that the Lib Dems might already be dead. So, as so often in human affairs, Hannan accuses the Daily Mail of just the sort of metaphorical muddlem that he is guilty of. It’s like that rule about how, if you ever accuse someone of spelling something wrong, you spell something else wrong yourself. No doubt there are other mixed metaphors in this.
But the box bit of the metaphor works okay. The box is now open, and we are seeing the Lib Dems for what they are.
However, I think that saying the Lib Dems are merely two-faced is an absurd understatement, as Hannan himself goes on to say, later in this same piece:
The rest of the party became what it is today: a tricksy, self-righteous alliance of convenience, prepared to say whatever local people want to hear.
In other words, they present not a merely two faces, but as many faces as there are people to be talked to. They tell you what you want to hear, no matter what that is. Almost every former Lib Dem voter will thus have been swindled by the Lib Dem bit of the Coalition. All have been promised things that the Lib Dems subsequently didn’t even argue for, let alone make the Cameron government do. Even people like the Greens were promised far more and far Greener stuff than the Lib Dems have come near to delivering on that front.
If the Lib Dems now start fighting like cats in a sack, good, because that will also destroy another carefully cultivate Lib Dem myth, which is that they are nice people, unlike all the other nasty politicos. Ask any nasty Labourites or nasty Tories with any campaigning experience, and they will all agree on this one thing, that the Lib Dems are utterly unprincipled shits (this being the private between-ourselves version of Hannan’s “tricksy” above). The ones who are not unprincipled shits are deluded idiots, their big delusion (usually one among many) is that their particular version of LibDemery is getting somewhere, by being a part – big, small, tiny, one solitary member - of the Lib Dems as a whole. No, as current events are now proving. A vote for the Lib Dems really is a wasted vote, because it’s anybody’s guess what voting Lib Dem means. Mostly what it means is that if you voted Lib Dem, you were lied to, successfully.
What the Lib Dems are now actually finished remains to be seen. Hannan clearly hopes so. So do I.
Perhaps the Lib Dems are dead, but there will be a dead cat bounce.
If I have a particular hatred of the Lib Dems, it is because the old Liberal Party as was – pretty much all of it - used to stand for something very like my particular opinions, which of course they went on telling me were really what they all wanted, long after that had stopped being even remotely true. Hannan feels the same.
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
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
Slightly wider tube trains
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!”
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
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
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
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
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?
Why I vote against AGW
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
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
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
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!
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
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!
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
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
Blogging – the end of the beginning
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
The new South Bank
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
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
Will China fail?
The Emperor Jones
Lib Dems edge towards school choice
End the medical monopoly!
Antoine Clarke on the French National Assembly elections
Don’t be a physics teacher
Is Jeremy Paxman a closet libertarian?
A surprising outburst of truth
Antoine Clarke on Sarkozy
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
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
Jeffrey Archer - blogger
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
Young People models for Old People
On style and politics
The latest Electionwatch mp3
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
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!
“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”