Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Category archive: Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Crikey. Given how silly this has already become, so quickly, I have become filled with extreme pessimism about the survival of the Libertarian Alliance, in anything resembling the state it has been in for the last few decades. I shall continue downloading Libertarian Alliance .pdf files.
As for Paul Marks, now might be a good moment for me to say a bit in his favour. Sean Gabb is right that Paul Marks has a somewhat suicide-note-ish manner of writing. But Paul Marks is neither mad nor stupid. He is, however, because of his writing style, easily underestimated.
I underestimated him when I did an interview with him some months ago, very badly, as in I did it very badly. Paul was fine, or would have been had I done my bit. Basically, I assumed from his written style that he would also be a somewhat unsatisfactory talker, of the sort who would need jollying along. Sound editing on the fly, so to speak. Alas, what I thought was jollying along was experienced by most of those those listening as me relentlessly interrupting. What I should have done was shut up and let Paul talk, as several Samizdata commenters pointed out. Despite having known Paul for years, I simply had not realised how well and how persuasively he would talk. With intelligent editing, Paul Marks is also a pretty good writer, if a somewhat eccentric one. His judgements are respected by a lot of people.
A basic criticism of internet “radio” and “television” performers on the internet (i.e. people who record sound files and video files and shove them up on the www) is that they (we) go on too long compared to how significant they (we) are.
Do you really want to listen to these guys talking for over an hour? Well, you almost certainly don’t. (That it went on so long is why it took me so long to make myself put it up.) But if about one dozen people, worldwide, do listen, then something is accomplished. Maybe one of them will get a point he otherwise might not have, and then write about it or talk about it, not at offputting length, or in a longer thing that people actually want to listen to or read in decent numbers.
Don’t compare it only with Newsnight. Compare it with a conversation in a pub. Slightly more people get to hear it than that. It’s slightly more coherent than that. It’s recorded slightly better than that, what with it being recorded. The internet is improved pub conversation, not just “worse BBC” so to speak. And in many ways, of course, if the BBC is biased, the internet is “improved BBC”, even if it does go on rather.
All of which was provoked by this bit of YouTubery (which I found a link to here). It’s Hitchens telling (some of) a television audience that they are unthinking morons. My point being not so much the splendour of Hitchens’s little put-down of his putdownees; it is that clicking and watching and listening will only take you somewhat more than one minute. Here is a man many would want to watch and listen to at length, yet this is but a tasty little snippet of him.
Going back to how the internet is improved pub conversation, rather than just bad broadcasting: Public smoking is already illegal. Any decade now, public drinking will probably follow. So therefore pubs are now in the process of being made illegal. Lucky the internet came along, just in time, wasn’t it?
Or, was it merely lucky? Maybe, now there’s the internet, the people who might have fought the illegalisation of pubs to the death now don’t feel the need. The internet caused smoking and drinking bans, by diverting the opposition to them. Discuss. But not in a pub.
When I was rootling around at the website of the Cobden Centre, prior to writing this, I came across the words “Brian” and “Micklethwait”, clicked, and found my way to Cobden Centre Radio. It turns out that they have used the first interview I did with Toby Baxendale for their second show, and then the second interview I did with Toby Baxendale for their third show. They had of course asked me about doing this, and I, equally of course, said an immediate yes. But with things like this you never know for sure until it happens. How about that? I’m not sure it’s literally correct to categorise Cobden Centre Radio as “radio”, but I have done this anyway.
Maybe I can get Cobden Centre supremo Andy Duncan to tell me how to use my recording gadgets without getting totally confused. At present the only one I am any good at using is the hateful Sony confusaphone, hateful because it obliges you to go half way around the techno-world turning Sony files into a human (.mp3) files. I bought another machine which doesn’t have this problem, but it has another problem. It’s totally effing incomprehensible.
Earlier this year Toby Baxendale talked into my recording machine, with only occasional interruptions from me, about the banking crisis and what to do about it.
This happened before the recent general election, so apologies for the delay in sticking this up, but nothing important has changed. The delay was because the thing was rather long, and I hesitated about how to present it. In the end, I just sliced out some stuff, mostly at the beginning, and shoved it up. I’m guessing that the audience for this, some of it at least, will be willing to spend a bit of time on it. So, I left it at just over an hour, rather than cutting it any further. The crude timing of this two part conversation is that the “what do we do?” question is put just after the 38 minute mark.
Some of what I omitted was by way of biographical introduction about Toby. If you would like to know more about him, read this, or listen to the the first conversation that I recorded with him in November of last year.
Last Friday, i.e. on April 9th, I recorded a conversation with Tim Evans, friend of many years, libertarian (in fact President of the Libertarian Alliance) and free market think tanker of growing renown, about what David Cameron has been up to and what he thinks he is doing. It lasts a little over half an hour.
I introduced Tim’s words-to-be as in being opposition to those who say that Cameron is a waste of space and heading for disaster, of one kind or another, electoral or Prime Ministerial. He is a lightweight in a world that has become heavyweight. He is the answer to a question that is not being asked any more. That kind of thing. But actually, although what Tim said was a most convincing explanation of what Cameron reckons he is doing, it was not any sort of proof that the critics of Cameron are necessarily wrong about him, as I somewhat found myself arguing. Britain’s voters seem to be rather unimpressed by Cameron just now. Tim’s picture of what Cameron is doing is very convincing as a description of his state of mind and party political tactics, but that doesn’t necessarily make Cameron’s state of mind either admirable or guaranteed to result in electoral success.
Yes, Cameron’s various Conservative predecessors did not get what they were up against. But Cameron’s strategy (if what now follows is indeed what it is) of waiting until the last possible moment before offering alternative policies to Labour policies, having spent years giving Labour’s - and particularly Brown’s - statist inclinations a deliberate free ride, to sucker them and him into being more statist, struck me on Friday and strikes me now not only as morally dubious, but also, because so morally dubious, also electorally hazardous. What if the voters decide that Cameron is not the nation’s solution, but a mere aspect of the nation’s problem? At one point, Tim said that Cameron will now be reckoning that his current nine point lead in the polls is evidence that he is on the right track. I blurted out at that point that he should be thirty points ahead.
However, the last thing I want to do is suggest that the conversation was other than extremely interesting. It certainly interested me. The central point is that Tim was concerning himself with how Cameron thinks, with how things are. Not with how he or I might like them to be.
What Tim says may also illuminate the rest of the campaign. Tim says that Cameron has just executed a major tactical switch. When in mere opposition, Cameron refused to propose good alternative policies for our disastrous government, because the government would have stolen them. But now, in the heat of the campaign, such policy theft won’t work so well. Too undignified, too fresh in voter memory, making too much of a nonsense of the Labour manifesto of only a few days before. So, Cameron is now, finally, proposing a few anti tax and spend policies, and if Tim is right, can be expected to propose quite a few more in the days and weeks to come. We shall see.
I was not feeling a hundred per cent last Friday, so my performance in particular needed quite a bit of editing, hence the delay in posting this (what with me still not feeling a hundred per cent between then and now), but it should all sound okay now.
Wait two months for a Brian Micklethwait Dot Com recorded conversation, and then two come along on the same day, although actually these two were recorded over a month apart.
This one with Antoine, recorded on Tuesday of this week, describes the electoral earthquake that was the victory of Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in the “special election” they had there, and how the Republicans have now caught up with the Democrats when it comes to applying blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc., to the winning of such elections.
How does this affect US politics in the months and years to come? And what can we in Britain, in particular we libertarians, learn from all this?
We managed to keep it down to below half an hour this time. Enjoy.
Early last month (on Dec 8), I had a chat down the phone with Bishop Hill, aka Andrew Montford, about his new and now available-to-buy book, The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science, and related topics. Listening to this conversation is a seriously insufficient substitute for reading the book itself. But as a way of learning what sort of a guy Andrew Montford is and what sort of mind he has, what got him thinking the way he does and blogging the way he does, it’s a good and useful listen, or so I hope.
It would have been an even better listen had it not been disfigured, right at the beginning, by mysterious clicking noises, caused by I don’t know what. Luckily, after about a minute and a half, this ceases. I have decided, rightly or wrongly, to just ask my listeners to hear past this annoyance. The rest of the conversation, which lasts just under 35 minutes, is okay.
So, with deep apologies for that early glitch, enjoy.
I will of course be writing more about the book itself, here and there. During the above conversation, pessimism about the book’s prospects was expressed, what with how long it was taking to emerge. “Missing the boat”, etc. But as of now, all the signs and early reactions I have encountered look good, and it is going to sell very well.
Jack Charlton, the former England soccer player (and brother of the stellar Bobby), in due course became a soccer manager and a rather good one (unlike Bobby). When Jack Charlton started out as a manager, someone asked him how he was doing. He replied that he was “groping”. Him being a Geordie, it came out as more like “gr-oo-er-ping”.
Well, I have been doing recorded interviews for quite some time now, and I too am grooerping. And given my advancing years, the grooerping may never end in the promised land of speedy expertise.
On Tuesday I recorded a Skype (at our end) and telephone (at his end) interview with Bishop Hill aka Andrew Montford, at the home of Patrick Crozier. Two things went wrong, one trivial and correctable, the other not so trivial and more laborious to correct.
The trivial thing that went wrong was that the first minute or so was afflicted with a mysterious clicking noise. At first the main suspect was me, clicking a biro. The horror. But in truth it was probably some electrical appliance in the vicinity. Mercifully it soon stopped, and the spoilt intro can easily be replaced.
The second error was that I failed to finish asking the basic science climate questions, pressing on too soon to the politics of it all. The Bishop didn’t finish his exposition of the Hockey Stick curve itself, which, given that the book we were talking around is called The Hockey Stick Illusion, was no trivial omission. We didn’t, so to speak, cover the entire length of the hockey stick. And second, I should also have got him to talk briefly about CO2.
So, we will convene again next Thursday and correct all this. It will certainly all keep that long. This argument is not going to go away any time soon. Even so, it’s quite an irritation to all concerned and I now feeling distinctly apologetic.
Despite the groping, I think I might be onto something with these interviews of lots of different people, rather than just with the same few friends, however fluent and knowledgeable. But, it’s actually a lot harder, because when facing a new person, I find myself making new and unforeseen mistakes.
Does anybody have any further thoughts on who else I might interview? My first requirement is that they be, more or less definitely, libertarians. I am not interested in helping other and more statist political tendencies to celebrate their rising stars.
Second, they have to have accomplished something of significance, like (in the case of Bishop Hill) having written a superb libertarian blog for a while, and now what promises to be superb book.
But third, I am interested in people who have not yet done much in the way of talking in front of mikes or cameras. That way, the people watching, or in my case listening, will learn about someone whose writing they may know, but whose voice and manner and attitude and background they may know a lot less about. To summarise, I am interested libertarians who have already started to do well, but of whom it is at least reasonable to hope that the best may yet be to come. Any more suggestions?
One thought I’ve already had, what with it having proved okay to do it by phone, is to interview the rising stars of libertarianism in continental Europe.
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Talking with Toby Baxendale
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Michael Jennings on shoring up the bad old economy versus building a good new one
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Talking with Antoine about the US election and about libertarian politics in the US and in the UK
The Puerto Rican candidate
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
Busy elsewhere again
Antoine Clarke on the US Primaries – either Obama will beat McCain or McCain will beat Clinton
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
Talking with Antoine Clarke about Sean Gabb
Antoine Clarke on Sarkozy
Words of wisdom from Brian Micklerthwit
Michael Jennings on intellectual property
Me and Alex talking Gilbert and Sullivan
Antoine and me on democracy and libertarianism - and me on how to podcast
Sullivan and Grove find some Schubert diamonds
Perry de Havilland on the thinking behind Samizdata
Adriana Media Influencer: What do you do? (the mp3s of the book)
What are conferences for? What should they consist of?
Antoine says why he got the midterms wrong
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries
Cranes and street lamps and mp3s
Talking with Tim Evans about the Libertarian Alliance
Tech talk mp3 with Michael Jennings
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Alex talks (clearly) with me (not so clear) about classical music
Alex is too busy - Sting records Dowland songs
Antoine Clarke talks with me about votes for women (and teenagers) – and about Sweden
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
Alex and Brian’s latest classical music mp3 – Saint-Saëns etc.
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Not much here today
Kristine writes down some of what Adriana said
Bruce Nicoll (Real Photographer) - some photographs and an mp3
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Podcasting with Adriana tomorrow
Alex and Brian talk classical music mp3 number two
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
Quota photo and Surrey weirdness
Brian and Antoine democracy mp3 number twelve
Another mp3 - Alex and Brian talk classical music
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
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
Sound files take up a lot more space than photos
Election Watch is postponed
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
More from Antoine Clarke about elections around the world
A second podcast (and it was rather too long)
My first podcast