Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
Brian Micklethwait on Ashes to ashes
itrat batool on Ashes to ashes
itrat batool on Ashes black out
Michael Jennings on Ashes to ashes
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Natalie Solent on Victor!
Peter Briffa on Ashes black out
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Most recent entries
- Long Title (with italics)
- Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
- Comrade Blimp
- Ashes to ashes
- La Porte des Indes
- Friend on telly
- Sculpture at St James’s Tube
- Digital photographers holding maps
- More photos of things past
- Father Christmas Aerodrome
- How big should these squares be?
- Daniel Hannan’s latest book(s?)
- The Kelpies of Falkirk
- A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
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
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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
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Lib on the United Kingdom
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Loic Le Meur Blog
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Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Never Trust a Hippy
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Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
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Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Crime
I just left a comment at Samizdata, on this posting by Natalie Solent (who has been very productive there of late) about the lack of security of the ObamaCare website, and this Guardian story on the subject:
The insecurity of the site, probably incurable in less than several months (from what I’m reading), has always struck me (ever since I first read about it a week or two back) as the absolute worst thing about ObamaCare, though I admit it’s a crowded field. The Bad News letters from insurance companies at least put a number to how much money is now going to be screwed out of you, that Obama said (about forty times) you would not be screwed out of. But all that data lying around for any tech-savvy passer-by to grab means there’s no upper limit to what you just might lose, if you have anything whatsoever to do with this horrible horrible thing.
It took me years to trust Amazon with my bank details. Only when about half the world seemed to be signing up for that deal did I take the plunge, and I still fear that in some mysterious way I might one day regret this. I mean, what if Amazon gets taken over by greedy incompetents, skilled only at crookedness, of the sort now already running ObamaCare (and also “advising” people about it)? I know, there are safeguards in place, but my fear is, although small, real. My fear with Obamacare would now be big, and real. My attitude to ObamaCare would be (a) I want nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with it, and (b) If the President and his gang say I have to have something to do with it, then I hope the President and his gang rot in hell.
Obama, it seems to me, has been treated like a great many other bad black Americans. He has been cut a million miles of slack, never criticised, never taught any morals, and now suddenly, patience has run out and he faces a lynch mob of enraged citizens. He is going to get the political version of a life-time prison sentence, namely a place in the Presidential Hall of Infamy. (I know what you’re thinking: wishful thinking on my part. Maybe. But his friends are all abandoning him now. He surely now realises that he has screwed up big, and that there is no way back.)
Heinlein had things to say about this. If you are going to punish big later, then it is kinder to give your punishee some warning, with small punishments earlier, when he does small things wrong when younger. I’m not talking physical abuse here, just the odd harsh word when the kid does a bad thing. That way he learns, instead of being hit with the kitchen sink, out of the blue, when he turns 18 or 50 or whatever.
I enjoyed reading this review of McBride’s book, by Guido, not least because it is a reminder of how capably Guido can do posh. His blog is deliberately tabloid, and he greatly admires the tabloid style. But, as I learned when he was still at the stage of occasionally contributing stuff to the Libertarian Alliance, way back when, this is not the only style he can do.
I just did a bit of searching for LA stuff he had written, and found my way to this (scroll down to page 8), from the turn of the century. It’s about how he wants to switch to a kinder, gentler libertarianism.
Alas, not that kind of bouncer.
This piece is from May 28, and the fixing concerned the IPL, then in progress, but the sentiments are permanent:
As a sports fan who likes to think of himself as a member of the “serious” class of that demographic, I enjoy embedding sport in its broader social, cultural, economic and political contexts; indeed, it is these contexts that elevate sport above mere coordinated physical exertion and give it its most resonant and rich meanings. Such a placement in context does a great deal to enhance and make richer my appreciation of the on-field endeavours of those who play the game; I track my growth in maturity as a fan as correlating quite closely with the increasing attention I paid to cricket’s history, economics and culture. Taking one’s eyes off the on-field action to look behind and around is thus a crucial aspect of understanding it better.
But these broader inquiries should never make us lose sight of the bare bones of the game, the basic bat-on-ball stuff. When that happens, we have been distracted adversely and our attention, supposedly meant for the game, has been consumed elsewhere. We aren’t being fans of the game any more; we have been suckered into something else altogether.
My resentment and frustration about the latest fixing scandal to strike cricket is grounded not just in in a very real weariness about the unending capacity for stupidity and greed on the part of cricket’s players and managers. (Killing golden geese is always tempting; too many seem to have succumbed recently.) It is a reaction, too, to fixing’s insidious ability to make cricketing action seem like a bizarre simulacrum of the real thing, to render ersatz that which I need to believe real in order to sustain my fanhood.
What I despise most about fixing is that it slaps me upside the head and tells me I’m wasting my time, that I’d do better to find other ways to while away the hours, that I should just move on, for there is no cricket here to be seen.
Exactly so. Cheating drains the meaning out of a sport, to the point where you feel like a fool for caring about it.
Here is another desperately depressing piece about the unrepentant Danish Kaneria. I would like to be told what was the nature of the evidence against him, though. ECB Chairman Clarke’s statement just states that Kaneria is guilty, basically, of trying to recruit other Essex players into his gang of bribees, and that he should come clean. Clarke doesn’t say anything about what that evidence was. Other players? Tapes? Was it all just the word of one other player, Mervyn Westfield, whom Kaneria persuaded to take bribes? If so, why did they believe what Westfield said about Kaneria?
Same report here, from the BBC. Again, no detail about what the evidence was. The opinion that Kaneria is guilty seems to be unanimous, but I would like to be told a bit more about why that is, just to be sure that Kaneria’s life ban is the right thing. If he is guilty and unrepentant, then it surely is.
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.
Dream and reality in Mumbai
Like a crisp packet being popped
I’m Charia Hebdo!
Natalie Solent at Biased BBC
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