Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
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
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
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Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
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Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
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the blog of dave cole
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Crime
Some of Michael J’s better bits of writing, as regular readers here will know, take the form of comments. Knowing that a few people at least are interested in the topic in question, and knowing something about it (Michael knows something about everything), he often finds himself then able to let fly, as he might not be able to do in a regular blog posting.
Here’s the latest MJ comment, on this, which is by Rob Fisher, about taxies:
At Skopje airport in Macedonia last year, I found the worst regulated taxi mafia I have ever seen, and that is saying something. Not only is there no public transport of any kind into the city from the airport, regular taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport either. There is a special class of horrendously overpriced “airport taxi” that is the only way of getting into town from the airport. When I arrived in Skopje last year I was approached aggressively by half a dozen of these taxi drivers as I walked out at the terminal.
This pissed me off. I had already found out about their scam (and knew that they were likely to charge me something like 25 to 30 euros to get into town), but their being rude and aggressive to me as well annoyed me. (Note to foreign touts trying to sell me stuff when I am visiting your country - I do not like it when you keep trying to sell me something after I have said no, and I *really* do not like being shouted at. Being in a situation where the people selling you something have done their best to make it impossible to prevent you from buying it does not lead to high standards of customer service, generally, either. The supposed justification for this taxi mafia is probably so that foreign visitors will receive a “high standard of service”, I suspect).
So I walked out of the carpark towards the road. The taxi drivers followed me halfway out of the carpark, but eventually figured out that I meant it. I had downloaded local maps onto my iPad, and I knew that there was a town perhaps half to three quarters of a mile away, and that this was on a long road connected to several other towns and the centre of Skopje. I walked down the side of the busy road and past the field full of ageing NATO military equipment that had been brought for some use in Kosovo and after a half hour or so reached the town and road on the map. My guess was correct, and there was a bus stop on that road, and people waiting at the bus stop. (There were also bars, restaurants and grocery stores in the town, that were open). I waited a few minutes, a bus came along, and caught the bus into town. The fare was about 40 cents. The bus driver was warm and friendly.
Amount of effort required for the local bus company to offer a service to the airport? Essentially none at all - that existing bus route would merely need to divert briefly to the airport. However, the airport taxi mafia was clearly powerful and well connected enough to prevent this. First impression given to foreign visitors by all this: Skopje is a town full of rude, nasty rip off merchants. (As is often the case, most locals are not actually like this, but not a good first impression. This really did not give me a high opinion of the quality of local governance, however).
Heaven knows who you have to be related to be to get one of these airport taxi licences though.
(And if I had not found a bus route? Well, as long as those bars, grocery stores and restaurants had in fact existed and been open, I am sure that there would have been no trouble if I had gone into one of them and asked a barman or cashier how to find a taxi. The “taxi” in question might well have ended up being a private car driven by the barman’s brother in law, but the negotiated price would have been much fairer).
One of the best things about blogging is that you can vent about things that really, really annoy you. if it’s a business which needs customers to do voluntary business with them, who knows, they might do regular ego-googling and get your message, while fearing that others might be getting it too. Things might improve. Your rant might improve the world for all of us, a tiny little bit. Good.
If it’s the government, which the above circumstance is, pretty much, you can at least tell the bastards, and the rest of the world, what you think of think of them. This too is soothing. Also good.
I doubt if anyone has been wondering where I have been for the last six days. Me not blogging is not exactly a big surprise these days. But I have actually been doing good things for this blog, by cleaning up the comment system.
Basically, spam commenters have been making my life a misery and this blog an object of ridicule to any who still bother with it, and I decided to drop all other blogging activity until I had turned back the tide. That is now done. For the time being at least, the spamsters have given up.
Basically I fixed it so that neither you nor the spammers can comment on any posting here, except the very recent ones. But you can now read all the proper comments that have accumulated here over the years, along with the postings. Previously, I had shut down quite a lot of the comments in such a way that not only could you not add a comment yourself; you couldn’t even read the comments that had once been there. Many (not most but many) comments from way back, not a few of them very interesting, had been scrubbed out as if they had never been.
Now, all those genuine, non-spam comments, every last one of them, are back. If you remember saying something brilliant about something I wrote about something or other, just type “something or other” into the search box on the left, and you can dig it up and admire it without fear of interruption.
I use Expression Engine, for the benefit of geeks. And the trick in Expression Engine was to fix it so that comments “expire”. Comments which have “expired” may not be responded to with further comments, but the entire comment thread can still be read.
Comments that have not been “allowed”, on the other hand, just disappear. But, those that I had disallowed didn’t disappear entirely. They could be re-allowed again. This is what I did, for all disallowed comment threads. But, I also made sure (by choosing a recent date now in the past) that all these comments have now “expired”. Are we clear?
All of which means that the spammers will no longer regard this blog as a target rich environment. They don’t mind me deleting their crap, so long of some of it sticks, for a little while, like when I am sleeping or having a life. The trick is to make it impossible for them to chuck it here in the first place, or not on any scale. There will still be a handful of recent postings for them to crap all over the comment threads of, but here’s hoping they will now look for bigger pastures (such as this blog used to be from their point of view) to ply their dishonourable trade. It’s now been more than a day since spam commenting opportunities here ceased to exist in anything resembling abundance, and the spammers seem, for the time being anyway, to have moved on.
I would love to meet someone who was foolish enough to boast to me, or come to that to anyone, that he does or ever did spam commenting for a living. I would probably end up in prison by the time I had done my thing to them, but it would be well worth it. Their lives would be a living hell from then on also, because I would have gone to as much trouble as was needed to accomplish that. Besides which, an enlightened judge or jury might decide that what I did, though harsh, was an entirely reasonable example of a crime of passion, or perhaps self-defence, even a public duty well performed, and that the little runt got just a little bit of what he entirely deserved, and that I owed the runt one pee in damages, which I would be delighted then to administer to the runt on the court-room steps, hopefully thereby ruining all the expensive clothes he had purchased for the trial in a vain attempt to persuade everyone that he was not a runt.
Meanwhile, the price this blog pays for all this anti-spamming activity is that no non-runts can now comment on ancient postings here, or not with a “comment”.
But very few ever did, and if you really do want to add something to some old thing here, do please feel entirely free to email in with such commentary, making it clear that you would welcome me including it in a new posting, which will then (because very recent) be available to be commented upon by others besides me.
The other somewhat bad news is that this all took me a very, very long time. Basically, I re-edited every single individual posting here, of which there are now getting on for three thousand. I am sure there was a much quicker way for me to have done this, but in truth I quite enjoyed the task. It went well with listening to music. Plus, I enjoyed acquainting myself with clever things I have written in the past, and with clever comments that others had written (some of them showing me to be not so clever, but there you go, that’s the price of mouthing off on the www).
Nevertheless (Patrick C)? Could I have done all this in a few moments? I bet I could.
Whenever, of a Friday, I go looking for cat news, there is always plenty.
Pride of place today goes to the news that the New York shooter loved his two cats. But, it is now argued, by some different scientists to the scientists who argued the opposite, that he can’t have caught brain cancer from his cats, because that doesn’t happen. Good to know. But, you might be driven by your cats to commit suicide. How about murder?
On the other hand, Cats that pester for food could be suffering from psychological condition. Yes. They’re cats.
News of a cat that is making itself useful: Cat opens new excavator plant in Texas. That must have been something to see. What did the cat say? Did it just chuck a champagne bottle against the side of the excavator plant? Is there video of this?
Next up, the encouraging news that M12 Cat 6A connector system delivers signal integrity up to 10Gbps.
And, in Israel, new born and very rare (apparently) sand kittens, like this one:
I actually don’t think the one on the right is very good. The cat connection is imposed, not explained.
This is such an important issue. Regular punters owning guns in America controls crime in America, except where idiot politicians forbid this.
But irregular punters, libertarians, not just having weapons but being downright enthusiastic about them. This will defend Libertaria, once someone finally gets it going, somewhere in the world.
Lots of libertarians think “defence” is a difficult issue. No. Just allow anyone who wants to do it to do it. The enemy are a bunch of wankers who don’t think they should be allowed to wield weapons. No contest. As for the armies these people think they command, our job will be to get our spies in among them, and stop them doing anything.
Building railways in built-up areas, organising drains, controlling infectious diseases; Things like that will be far harder to sort out.
By the way, I like the word “Libertaria”, to describe the place when Libertarianism first kicks off in a big way. I have been in the habit of calling this mythical land the “libertarian utopia”. But “utopia” is a word with baggage attached, a lot of it very bad. “Libertaria” dodges all such stuff.
I want to live here!
Here being here:
It’s Mumbai though. They will only ever finish half of it, and there will be a slum in the location where they want to build the second swimming pool that they cannot do anything about.
In a way, this would be good. In China, the slum would be demolished and the people living in it would be relocated 3000 miles into the middle of the desert at gunpoint. So there are different ways of doing it.
Incoming from Michael J:
This is right in the middle of Malabar Hill, the poshest address in Mumbai and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Everything in India is next to everything else.
Incoming from Michael J:
Not a great photo, alas, but there is a sign at the entrance to the slum saying that this is in fact a co-op. housing society (proposed). The nearby rich residents have clearly decided that the slum should be demolished and replaced with something nicer and less unsightly for the residents to live in and to make the neighbourhood prettier. But this being India, it remains forever proposed.
A sane way of dealing with this situation would be to give the residents of the slum legal title to where they live. They could then sell it to developers, and use the money from it to build themselves palatial houses elsewhere. Everyone would then be better off.
Unfortunately, Indian bureaucracy is too stultifying for this to happen, and in addition Mumbai itself is too corrupt for it to happen in a fair way. Even if it could happen legally, gangsters would find a way to steal the money.
Micklethwait’s Law number about seven states that if you want to cheer yourself up about your own country, ignore your own country and look instead at all the others.
Further to my effort to keep this blog ticking over, on account that one day it might come in handy, here is a piece of kitten blogging, on account of it being Friday which is my day for kitten blogging.
I seem to recall, a long time ago, Smith and Jones, or Hale and Pace, somebody, doing a sketch where one of them threatened to microwave a kitten. I forget why. I don’t recall them actually doing this, but the mere thought of such an atrocity caused several sacks of outrage correspondence from the nothing-better-to-do-than-bitch-about-the-telly tendency.
It was going to happen eventually. Now, somebody has gone the whole hog and actually done this:
Callous Gina Robins put the helpless ten-week-old pet in the 770-watt oven and turned it on.
Owner Sarah Knutton heard a loud noise “like a crisp packet being popped” followed by an “horrendous screech” as it died in agony.
Revenge because Sarah stole Gina’s boyfriend. Or something.
Cheer yourself up with the bear who waved back.
However, I don’t believe the Moists actually care that their precious prophet has had his picture flashed about. I think they’re just looking for a fight, and I am giving them the oxygen of publicity. Oh well. But you can’t just ignore this crap. Here’s hoping the Gendarmes get them.
Don’t agree with the French politician (second link) who wants everyone to “respect” all opinions. Just tolerate, even as you despise and/or detest, is quite sufficient.
What’s Mo saying, by the way? Anyone? Ah, answer here.
That‘s not a link.
This (Pentecostalist minister who leaves his ex-wife to die, murders his wife’s ex-husband, drowns his son’s dog, strangles his wife, kills another woman who looks like his new wife, writes mad religious ravings on his cell wall in his own blood but is black) is a link.
Lion steals camera
The graffiti says he won’t get his keys back
Nil scrap value
Let us now trash infamous men
Mozart might have become a criminal
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Zaltzman on Clarke
Ten thoughts about the Pakistan cricket corruption story
Why not just sell them?
Is Timberland guilty of spam commenting me?
A response to the cyclist menace
Big box computers versus laptops
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
This is not Mohammed
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
You know where you are with a book - usually
Three more headlines and how the internet remembers it all
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Under a hundred copies
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
What a difference a g makes
Indy Flatverts and a Guido Q&A
Mrs Billion Monkey doesn’t want to catch swine fever!
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
Jennings did it
Monster buildings and monster people
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
Armed is less dangerous
“If only it were true …”
Tower Bridge in the blue grey afternoon (and Jenny Agutter obviously did it)
Billion Monkey murderers!?!
Better safe than sorry
She’s alive I tell you! Alive!
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Links and guns
Lots of links
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
The Joyce Hatto affair - no big deal
Stupid Billion Monkeys!
Whatever it is and no matter how illegal it already is … there ought to be a law against it!
iPods as the new CDs
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Car attack – the plot thickens