Saturday, 30 April 2022
Something isn’t the air
Something isn’t the air – political choice. It seems to be fading away, or maybe there never was much genuine political choice and the lack has become more obvious. Perhaps the internet is showing us what we never had, as if the only political choice we ever had was to be political or apolitical.
Yet the adoption of a definite political outlook seems to cause a substantial number of people to become unhinged including political leaders. This in turn seems to be one of our major problems, our collective inability to analyse our way out of unhinged political games. As if having a political outlook is more of an affliction than a personal philosophy. An affliction which mostly damages those who don’t have it. Seems designed that way too, which isn’t good.
To be political in the modern world is to accept a broadly totalitarian standpoint on political, economic and social issues. This isn’t how political standpoints are sold to voters, but modern political parties owe nothing to vanished traditions apart from the brand. Our only voting option today is the least unhinged option and even that is dubious. A kind of bad cop, mad cop scenario.
Disraeli’s Great Game has evolved into a vast and vastly corrupt patronage network with tentacles reaching into every aspect of daily life. Government is presumed to be responsible for everything of social and economic significance, the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong played on an increasingly global scale.
Within the Great Game, political, economic and social life are doctrinal issues or they can soon be made so. Anything else would require analysis which is no longer how the game is played. Analysis has no role for climbers of the greasy pole. Nothing lies outside the Great Game, including the arts, the natural world, technology, science, religion, history or even the facts of everyday life. It wasn’t always so, but it is now.
What we see across the developed world is a relentlessly promoted and universally applicable range of political narratives. It is not a battle between the political left and right – there is no such political division. Political diversity is almost wholly contained within wider political narratives which now comprise the Great Game. Power struggles only occur between political factions within the Great Game. Nobody else is close enough to power anyway. Power plays are doctrinal, strategic, tactical or merely personal conflicts.
A political standpoint has become a standardised allegiance to the Great Game, not something personal. A remarkably simple allegiance too – much like supporting a football club. Easy to grasp and easily adapted to a vast array of political, economic and social issues.
It all requires so little mental effort that over time almost universal assent to the Great Game seems inevitable until the unhinged find that in the long run, unhinged policies don’t work too well.
Can’t be long now.
Sounds like the effects of boredom to me
Neil Parish: MP resigns as he admits watching porn in the Commons
The veteran politician, who had the Conservative whip suspended on Friday, said he watched adult material twice in Parliament, claiming the first time was accidental after looking at tractors online but that the second was "a moment of madness".
Friday, 29 April 2022
A meaningful apology
Guyana's president calls for 'meaningful' apology over slavery after meeting Boris Johnson
In a recent visit to the Caribbean, the Earl and Countess of Wessex faced anti-colonial protesters who demanded apologies and reparations for the role the UK played in the transatlantic slave trade.
Thursday, 28 April 2022
Why did our brains shrink?
Wednesday, 27 April 2022
Envy of the World
Does anyone still seriously believe the NHS is the ‘envy of the world’?
Today’s report from the thinktank Civitas, authored by former CPS director Tim Knox, makes for a difficult read for anyone who still honestly thinks ours is the greatest health system the world has ever seen.
Knox’s report is all the more striking for how little editorialising is involved. Rather, he has simply taken OECD health data across various criteria and seen how well the NHS does compared to similar countries’ health systems.
The answer is, unfortunately, not very well at all.
Mother, 29, says she was left with 'lips like a baboon's bum' after an allergic reaction to routine filler top-up caused severe swelling that 'closed her airways' and made it difficult to breathe
Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Not exactly sympathy
The diagnosis of dangerous illness would be accepted by one with a laugh and a joke, by another with dumb despair. Philip found that he was less shy with these people than he had ever been with others; he felt not exactly sympathy, for sympathy suggests condescension; but he felt at home with them.
W. Somerset Maugham - Of Human Bondage (1915)
Democratic governments and government agencies like to show oodles of sympathy whenever they have to opportunity. Our thoughts are with… It’s become a standard mantra, but it is how institutional condescension can be made to seem less condescending.
Another approach is to create a sense of paternal sympathy - we understand the problems this causes but it has to be this way. Alternatively make the narrative appear to be purely factual, promoted by experts who know best - it’s unfortunate, of course it is, but the experts know what they are talking about don’t they?
An enormous amount of effort seems to go into making sure government propaganda has a kind of official sympathy at its core. Which is where the condescension is too.
Shanghai: Green fences baffle locked down residents
Authorities battling Shanghai's latest Covid outbreak have installed fences to restrict the population's movement.
Green barriers have appeared without warning outside buildings where those inside are forbidden from leaving.
One resident told the BBC a green fence appeared inside his locked-up compound three days ago without any explanation.
Monday, 25 April 2022
Tweedledee or Tweedledum?
Angela Rayner row: Does Parliament have a problem with misogyny?
A story in the Mail on Sunday reporting claims from Conservative MPs about Angela Rayner has been widely criticised as misogynistic.
It claimed Labour's deputy leader tries to distract Boris Johnson in Parliament by crossing and uncrossing her legs as she sits on the frontbench, facing the assembled Tory MPs.
But is misogyny the exception rather than the rule when it comes to the culture in Parliament?
Glue ourselves to the M25 as a protest?
What to do if a worst-case nuclear scenario actually happens
Amid increasing tensions with world nuclear powers, the threat of blasts becomes scarily more and more plausible. The US government has even updated its guidance for a nuclear attack since Vladimir Putin placed Russian nuclear forces on high alert.
Sunday, 24 April 2022
Ambition not supported by ability
Guy Hatchard has a piece in TCW on the role of pharmaceutical PR in the way New Zealand handled the coronavirus debacle.
We should not understate the naivety of the government, media and scientists during the pandemic. The tabloid-style stories of severe Covid outcomes, the authoritative voice of Dr Anthony Fauci (who has financial conflicts of interest), the allure of the word vaccine, and the exaggerated death toll in foreign lands all combined into a convincing call for immediate and coercive action. Yet behind the stories, the highly profitable pharmaceutical PR system was running at full steam playing on the fear factor. New Zealand fell head over heels in love. Love knows no reason and that was certainly the case here.
The whole piece is worth reading, but to my mind one of the comments makes a better point about the wider issue of academic failings.
"The British Medical Journal agrees. On March 16 it published an article which said: ‘Evidence-based medicine has been corrupted by corporate interests, failed regulation and commercialisation of academia.’"
A reliably socialist rant from the BMJ. I have a different take on the matter. Most medical practitioners are not scientists. They get in the habit of drawing conclusions from evidence wholly inadequate from the strictly scientific point of view. That is the nature of their job since a lot of the time they can't do nothing for the patient sitting in front of them. The ability to rigorously analyse scientific data quantitatively is very rare and that is before the quality of data is considered which in human clinical studies is often poor (lack of proper controls, poor 'blinding' when comparing treatments, over-reliance on patients' self-reporting etc). None of which inhibits ambitious docs from churning out papers for medical journals. Commercial reasons for distortions can occur although awareness of that potential has been high for a long time and failure to declare such interests is now very dangerous professionally. Rather, academic failings are more down to ambition not supported by ability and by the spirit of 'publish or perish'.
Attacks by laymen on the medical profession are felt to be dangerous... "in case my doctor then refuses to treat me". 'Commercial interests', on the other hand are everyone's favourite Aunt Sally. Like the royal family, the pharmaceutical industry for the most part says nowt. There is no point in offering mere facts in response to juicy conspiracy theories.
Saturday, 23 April 2022
EU cracks down
New EU power to fine big tech billions in crackdown on hate speech, disinformation and harmful content
The new Digital Services Act will force companies including Facebook, Google, and Amazon to police themselves harder and make it easier for users to flag problems.
And as surely as night follows day, hate speech will eventually include strong personal criticism of senior EU bureaucrats.
Tech giants had been lobbying officials in Brussels to get them to water down the rules.
To enforce them, the European Commission is expected to hire more than 200 new staffers. To pay for it, tech companies will be charged a "supervisory fee," which could be up to 0.1% of their annual global net income, depending on the negotiations.
Friday, 22 April 2022
Karl D. Stephan has a piece in Mercatornet on electric vehicles and their main problem - battery technology.
The underlying problem in electric-car battery fires is the technology. You may not be aware that the liquid or gel electrolyte in the type of lithium battery used in electric vehicles cannot be exposed to air without catching fire. This is one reason that manufacturing such a battery is so tricky.
We already know about the fires, but it's a fairly short piece and worth reading. I was particularly struck by this observation for example.
Do you think military tank drivers go ten thousand miles without needing any service, or astronauts think they’ll be able to ride their rockets for ten thousand launches without having any problems? Yet we start a car several times a day for years and expect nothing to go wrong.
It’s that kind of standard that every electric-vehicle battery is expected to meet, and the wonder is that they have come this far. Pardon an old technologist for making a statement that is more intuitive than fact-based, but when I look at a typical EV battery that consists of several thousand individually-manufactured, hermetically sealed, and electrically insulated cells, I see a technology that is fundamentally immature.
Thursday, 21 April 2022
Swamped by degrees
A report out this week from the Tony Blair Institute says doing so would ‘significantly’ boost productivity and economic growth by increasing the number of skilled graduates.
In the foreword, former Universities Minister Jo Johnson argues that this would put us on a par with high-innovation economies like South Korea and Japan, where HE participation rates are already well above the 53% in the UK.
The intentions behind these proposals are clearly noble: who would not want an economy full to the brim with highly skilled workers competing for well paid, fulfilling work? It’s also worth noting that this is very much a long-term plan, with the aim of 60% of young people in HE by 2030, and 70% by 2040.
Blair reminds me of Covid - apparently impossible to shake off.
Allergic to Lycra perhaps
Wednesday, 20 April 2022
Sofa v Lamborghini
Yesterday a new Lamborghini rumbled past me while walking back home. I don't know what type of Lamborghini it was because they all look the same to me. However the manufacturer had helpfully placed the word 'Lamborghini' across its rear end.
I assume wealthy people buy them to create some kind of impression on those who can't afford one. To a good approximation that must be virtually everyone else. What's the appeal though? It's such a lot of money to spend on a car.
It's not about style because these things aren't about style. They all look like bigger versions of the toy racers Grandson used to play with. How about the social basics - creating a look at me impression? That works for the Lamborghini, but Edd China's sofa car must create a pretty powerful impression too.
Tuesday, 19 April 2022
Karen Harradine has a piece in TCW on the Shanghai lockdown. Here in the UK it's one of those stories which has been receiving some media prominence but has tended to be edged out by Ukraine, relentless finger-pointing at Boris, and celebrity guff.
THE chattering classes have been very busy flying the Ukrainian flag in their social media bios but are suspiciously quiet about the horrifying human rights abuses taking place in China.
Three weeks ago, on March 28, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) put the city of Shanghai into lockdown on the basis of just 425 mild cold cases. None of the 26million inhabitants are allowed to leave their homes. The military patrols the streets and have sealed apartments with metal locks, turning homes into prisons and depriving residents of fresh air, food, medical supplies and human contact.
To my mind the whole piece is well worth reading for a number of reasons, one of which is simply the extraordinarily sinister nature of the Shanghai lockdown. Why take such horrifically draconian measures? There are some obvious answers such as this one -
Xi has tightened his grip on Shanghai, the freest, most cosmopolitan place in China, as it’s the city most likely to revolt against his seizing yet another term as ruler later this year. Thanks to its cruel Covid-19 policies and its economic overreach, the CCP’s reign is faltering, and like all threatened regimes, it seeks to beat down its citizens into blind obedience.
Maybe we should be more concerned about Shanghai because of what it tells us about lockdown as a policy. It should have been consigned to the errors of history, but Shanghai suggests it wasn't.
The merciless horror that is Shanghai should discredit the notion of lockdown for ever. Yet not a word of criticism has been uttered by Western governments against China’s latest barbarism. The Biden administration refuses to condemn this dystopian nightmare, perhaps an indication that it seeks to emulate this. Covid zealot Dr Anthony Fauci threatened the US with further lockdowns a month ago.
Fresh from strutting around Kyiv like a preening peacock, supporting Ukraine’s right to freedom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t apply the same idealism to Britain on his return. Interviewed on GB News, in typical dictator fashion Johnson threatened the British people with another lockdown. He also had the audacity to claim that lockdowns saved lives whereas the opposite is true.
Monday, 18 April 2022
The Telephone At Work
Sunday, 17 April 2022
Mind the poo
Snowdon path ‘covered in human faeces’ as hundreds flock to mountain over Easter break
A Snowdon guide had to tell her group to ‘mind the poo’ on her sunrise hike up the popular Wales path
Rebecca Williams, assistant director of National Trust Cymru, told the BBC creating a tourism offer that was “year-round, all weathers and not just on these Easter weekends” could help these natural beauty sites be managed better.
“If we want to make tourism sustainable [we need] to ensure that it is coordinated, controlled and that we are working with communities to ensure communities aren’t left to manage the burden,” she told BBC Radio Wales.
Wacky Welby Wobbler
Rwanda asylum scheme: Archbishop of Canterbury hits out at government plans, saying they are ungodly
The archbishop's unexpected intervention comes after criticism for the scheme from Labour politicians, human rights groups and the United Nations.
The government's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is "opposite the nature of God", the Archbishop of Canterbury will say.
Reverend Justin Welby will use his Easter Sunday sermon to criticise the government scheme that will see refugees who reach the UK through illegal routes deported to Archbishop of Canterbury.
Saturday, 16 April 2022
Saw three Cayuga ducks on the river Wye at Bakewell yesterday. Escaped from somewhere I imagine. As it says in the link, they were quite placid - unlike hyperactive Mallards.
Sold to the highest bidder
TCW has a piece on Joe Biden's obvious mental issues.
WHEN the Saudis satirise Joe Biden, the US really needs to start worrying. Sky News Australia reports on the growing pressure in America on the President to submit to a cognitive test as his lapses and mental confusion are ever more evident. It really isn’t a joke, as the lovely Maddie Hale explains after this Saudi ‘first’:
Nothing new but one of the comments chimed with me.
I can't help it; I've never liked him and certainly didn't vote for him but I have to tell you - as angry and disgusted as I am with how quickly he is ruining America, my heart goes out to him. His family sold him to the highest bidder and thought nothing, nothing, of putting that failing man on the world's stage in the biggest platform on earth. I loathe them far more than I dislike the man himself.
I am getting older; things don't work quite like they used to, I find myself forgetting little things but as I age and fail, I can do it in the privacy of my home and amidst the love of my family who will watch out for me and protect me as these things most naturally have to happen.
What an evil, evil bunch they are - everyone who put him forward to become the laughing stock of the entire world.
Keir and the Sky Horse
Friday, 15 April 2022
Not sure how I missed Kemlo
The Kemlo series is a series of children's science fiction novels written by Reginald Alec Martin, under the pseudonym of E. C. Eliott. The first book, Kemlo and the Crazy Planet was published in 1954; the fifteenth and final book in the series, Kemlo and the Masters of Space, was published in 1963.
I'm not sure how I missed them while growing up in the fifties, because at the time they must have been my kind of book. Science fiction, kids in space doing exciting things. How could I miss that?
The only explanation I've come up with is that Derby library didn't stock them so I never encountered Kemlo books until now. Which is too late of course - although I do like those covers. Maybe it illustrates how restricted we were by TV, radio and what was available in the local library.
The central character, Kemlo, was born and raised in space, on a satellite named Satellite Belt K (one of a number of similar space stations named after a letter of the alphabet). All children born on a space station were given names with the same initial, hence the names Kemlo, Kartin, Kerowski, Krillie, and so on. Kemlo is a Captain of the Space Scouts, who have their own "scooters" - small two-seat personal spacecraft for travel around and between the Satellite Belts. Kemlo, like all children born in space, breathes "plasmorgia" instead of air. This allows him to breathe in space, although it means he is unable to travel to Earth without the aid of compressed plasmorgia and "gravity rays".
Thursday, 14 April 2022
But can therapists make a difference?
‘I was enjoying a life that was ruining the world’: can therapy treat climate anxiety?
People are increasingly looking for help to deal with feelings of fear, helplessness and guilt amid the climate crisis. But can therapists make a difference and is seeking treatment just a form of denial?
Which behavior most closely matches the actual situation is a question not so much of fact, accuracy, or comprehensiveness as of the interests and practices of verbal communities.
B.F. Skinner - Verbal Behavior (1957)
Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Isolated by an entourage
And for eighteen years now he had been shut up in the Vatican, isolated from the rest of mankind and communicating with the nations solely through his entourage, which was often most unintelligent, most mendacious, and most treacherous.
Emile Zola – Rome (1896)
Zola is referring to Pope Leo XIII, but this is an entirely familiar problem - leaders isolated from the outside world within a leadership clique. Common enough throughout history, but our political leaders try to persuade us that it isn’t a problem - that they listen to us. Suppose we highlight the issue of modern leadership isolation by taking an extreme example such as Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
Not easy because good information is not readily available, but we know enough to see Kim as a man completely surrounded by advisers, servants, guards and senior officials. Surrounded by his entourage all day, every day for as long as he remains in power.
Suppose we widen the focus from Kim himself to his immediate entourage then their entourages and so on down through the bureaucracy. This gives us Swamp(NK) as the wider ruling clique, the complex bureaucracy which serves and maintains the system. It projects Kim as a cult figure, a personification of the regime. Kim himself may be isolated from everything but Swamp(NK), but the system he represents is not his. He inherited it from his father and grandfather.
Moving on to actors on other political stages such as Joe Biden or Boris Johnson. Maybe they are less isolated by Swamp(US) or Swamp(UK), but part of that is due to their affiliation with Swamp(EU), Swamp(UN) and Swamp(Global). They too have no need to escape into the reality most voters know.
Kim Jong-un highlights the level of elite isolation which is possible, but even within democracies, elite isolation from real life is still a major feature of political life. It is impossible to vote against Swamp(NK), but hardly any easier to vote against Swamp(UK) or Swamp(US). Allowing the UK electorate to vote against Swamp(EU) was an aberration. It is unlikely to be repeated.
Spent part of the afternoon sweating over the removal of a large cherry tree root in the garden. We'd had the tree felled and removed earlier in the year because it had become too big and its roots were lifting slabs in a nearby paved area.
I hacked the main root out eventually after much huffing and puffing to get at a thick side root which seemed to have grown straight down from the underside of the main root. The problem was how to get at the thing because it was quite well hidden. Eventually the crowbar shifted the big main root just enough for me to get at the problem root with a saw.
Many trees and shrubs seem to have at least one specially awkward root to make things difficult for gardeners. I think they grow them deliberately. Gaia is not our friend.
Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Henry VIII comes to Derbyshire
Extras needed for big-budget costume drama filming in Derbyshire
Rumour has it that Jude Law is playing the lead role of King Henry VIII
The production company is now appealing for Derbyshire residents to apply to get involved in the shoot for the film by donning their Tudor-style costumes and being an extra in the background. However, before you all clamber to sign up, anyone wanting a place will have to meet a certain list of requirements.
Only those with certain body types will be considered. The poster says that because of "the time period we are matching, we have very specific costume sizes".
Those requirements mean only women who are between 5ft 1inch and 5ft 8 inches tall will be considered, they must have a maximum bust of 36inches, waist of 32inches max, hip of 40inch max and a dress size of no larger than 14.
For the men, they must be between 5ft 8inch and 5ft 11inch tall, a minimum chest size of 36 inches to 42inch maximum, collar size between 15inch and 17inch and a waist of between 28inch and 36inch.
The War On Our History
Monday, 11 April 2022
Inside drug dealer's 'extremely lavish lifestyle' funded by laundered cash
specialist officers found designer clothes, handbags and shoes, as well as flash cars at Mahmood Hussain's home address - despite the dealer appearing to have virtually no money.
It was also unveiled that he had funded deposits, home improvements and mortgage payments on two houses that were in the names of family members.
These included a hot tub, walk-in wardrobe filled with designer gear and an illuminated stairway. A Volkswagen and a high-end Audi RS4, used by Hussain, were also registered in other names.
Maybe we should count the bureaucrats
As many may know, yesterday three caracal kittens were the subject of the Bing picture of the day. They are medium-sized wild cats and not knowing much about them I looked them up in an idle moment. Interesting animals, but what struck me was a tiny example of bureaucracy at work.
African caracal populations are listed under CITES Appendix II, while Asian populations come under CITES Appendix I.
The Central Asian caracal population is listed as Critically Endangered in Uzbekistan since 2009, and in Kazakhstan since 2010.
That's a good thing isn't it? Maybe, but it does raise yet again the question of how much bureaucracy is out there. Local, national, international, global. Environmental bureaucracy alone must be vast but we don't know how vast. Not endangered of course.
Sunday, 10 April 2022
Inherited from a totalitarian past
The life of reason is a heritage and exists only through tradition. Half of it is an art, an adjustment to an alien reality, which only a long experience can teach: and even the other half, the inward inspiration and ideal of reason, must be also a common inheritance in the race, if people are to work together or so much as to understand one another.
George Santayana - Winds Of Doctrine Studies in Contemporary Opinion (1913)
Language is part of our heritage – obviously. Political language is too, it doesn’t disappear as political systems evolve. Political language evolves too, but in a connected age it did not necessarily evolve from our democratic heritage. It’s a problem we don’t discuss in the public arena, the political underbelly, the question of where our current political language came from, how it evolved from evils of the past to blight our political lives today.
Today we see what are effectively evolved totalitarian language games from the era of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, from the era of the Little Red Book, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, from Baader-Meinhof and the madness of jackboot politics. However vile, those political language games didn’t die when the main characters died or even when their regimes died.
Now we are left wondering how corrupt the roots of our current political language games are and if they could evolve into something even worse. Unfortunately there is something morally corrupt about democratic politics to begin with. It does not attract many honest, tough-minded and professionally competent people. Almost none we might say without being unduly cynical.
We see political moral corruption all the time, but the pressure not to see it is enormously powerful, enormously wealthy and if challenged, increasingly vindictive. Play our language games they insist – we refuse to recognise any other. Very much like waving the Little Red Book.
Take climate change for example, one of the more obvious issues when we mull over the corruption of democratic political language. There is something disgusting about adults playing political language games with children. Lying to them about their climate because this is how the game is played at the highest level. Doubt or deviation are punished socially, professionally and politically.
Political language games have corrupted the language of altruism and charity, the language of progress, science, technology, economics, social life, family life and even human biology. Political language has almost become too corrupt to conduct civilised political discourse across political divides, a form of corruption clearly and unambiguously inherited from a totalitarian past.
Saturday, 9 April 2022
Why Western Liberals Hate Orban's Hungary
Temporary Traffic Lights
Yesterday a set of traffic lights failed on our school run route. Our friendly bus driver says it didn't make much difference to the traffic flow, drivers coped well with having no traffic lights.
Then a set of temporary traffic lights were installed and things changed quite dramatically. It took us 40 minutes to complete a 4 mile journey. Maybe get rid of the lights and save energy is the lesson. Or get rid of the bureaucrats. Or both.
Friday, 8 April 2022
More from a hectoring profession
Keeping waist measurement less than half your height ‘good for your health’
People should ensure their waist measurement is less than half their height to keep health problems at bay, an NHS watchdog has said.
For the first time, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says adults with a body mass index (BMI) under 35 should measure their own waist-to-height ratio as part of wider plans to tackle obesity.
George Moore - A Drama In Muslin (1886)
Moore was writing about Irish landowning families of the late nineteenth century, but today we have huge castes in a not entirely dissimilar situation. What could they do with their empty brains? What could they do with their feeble hands? In our time that’s easy – health hectoring is just one of numerous hectoring professions.
Thursday, 7 April 2022
Expensive energy was deliberate
Energy security strategy: Boris Johnson pledges to 'do more' on cost of living crisis as he defends energy strategy
"We are really doing a huge amount for the immediate cost of living," the PM said.
"This (energy strategy) is about tackling the mistakes of the past and making sure that we are set well for the future and we are never again subject to the vagaries of the global oil and gas prices and we can't be subject to blackmail, as it were, from people such as Vladimir Putin, we have energy security here in the UK."
A few days ago I bought a pair of trousers which are a very good fit and look as well as trousers can look on an oldie. Mrs H thinks they look good anyway.
I did suggest keeping them for those occasions where we choose to look slightly smarter than usual but Mrs H disagreed. She pointed out that I’d only paid £3.50 for them at a charity shop so I may as well use them as every day mooching around trousers.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Wednesday, 6 April 2022
Are crowds smart or dumb?
Rob Henderson has an interesting book review in Quillette.
Are crowds smart or dumb? You may have heard the terms “wisdom of the crowds” and the “madness of crowds.” The former idea is that the collective opinion of a group of people is often more accurate than any individual person, and that gathering input from many individuals averages out the errors of each person and produces a more accurate answer. In contrast, the “madness of crowds” captures the idea that, relative to a single individual, large numbers of people are more likely to indulge their passions and get carried away by impulsive or destructive behaviors. So, which concept more accurately reflects reality?
Noise: A Flaw in Human Nature by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein provides the answer. The authors share research indicating that “independence is a prerequisite for the wisdom of crowds.” That is, if you want to use crowdsourcing to produce accurate information, you have to ensure that people make their judgments in private. If people provide their answers in a public setting where they can see everyone else’s answers, then the crowd can transform wisdom into madness.
Fairly long and it contains nothing startling, but it is still well worth reading the whole review because there are quite a few insights which modern life tends to obscure. This for example -
In 2011, the educated class generally favored meritocratic and objective measures for judgment and decision-making. They found the message that we should challenge the role of bias in our everyday judgments appealing, and believed that we should rid ourselves of habits that lead us to judge other people or situations unfairly. Today, however, much of intellectual culture has changed. Now that luxury beliefs are ascendent, relying on objective measures is no longer fashionable.
The Chalice Passes To Kwarteng
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng orders scientific review of fracking impact
The government has ordered a new report on the impact of fracking, days ahead of publishing its energy supply plan.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has given the British Geological Survey (BGS) three months to assess any changes to the science around the controversial practice.
Fracking was halted in the UK in 2019 amid opposition from green groups and local concerns over earth tremors.
Tuesday, 5 April 2022
Failing the smell test
Even if we put the science to one side, the climate change narrative doesn’t pass normal human smell tests. The behaviour it generates, the behaviour we see from its supporters and promoters, these behaviours don’t fit the narrative.
Wealthy supporters still fly their private jets to climate change events.
It's now or never forever
Climate change: IPCC scientists say it's 'now or never' to limit warming
UN scientists have unveiled a plan that they believe can limit the root causes of dangerous climate change.
Global emissions of CO2 would need to peak within three years to stave off the worst impacts.
Monday, 4 April 2022
What about tennis elbow?
New COVID symptoms added to official NHS list as free testing ends
The new symptoms have been added to the NHS website, alongside the three traditional symptoms of a fever, a new and persistent cough, and a loss or change in taste or smell.
According to the NHS the signs of COVID-19 that people should look out for also include:
- shortness of breath;
- feeling tired or exhausted;
- an aching body;
- a headache;
- a sore throat;
- a blocked or runny nose;
- loss of appetite;
- feeling sick or being sick.
Sunday, 3 April 2022
The New Authoritarians
The New Authoritarians
Woke professionals acting as the indentured servants of a fearful oligarchy have become everything we were told to fear from Trumpism
After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, many Democratic voters felt baffled and betrayed. Pollsters and statisticians had predicted a decisive victory for Hillary Clinton, and her campaign had even attempted to elevate Trump because they thought he was the easiest candidate for her to beat. Conveniently, the Russian collusion narrative and allegations of white supremacy allowed the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign, and the media to avoid asking themselves how they had made such an enormous miscalculation.
"Woke professionals acting as the indentured servants of a fearful oligarchy" - how deliciously apt. Think of BBC stooges talking down to us and telling us off. As we know, it is almost standard for those woke professionals to accuse their opponents of extreme authoritarian beliefs they themselves are busily promoting.
As a result of this increased economic pressure, the class war waged by college graduates has become two-pronged. Not only is a nexus of Democrat-affiliated academics, NGOs, and bureaucrats waging a campaign against the “unenlightened” masses, but it is also engaged in evermore competitive intra-elite battles. These battles escalated with Trump’s election, but have reached a fever pitch since the beginning of the pandemic. Thus are woke professionals of all ages advancing evermore extreme positions to oust their competitors and vie for limited spots in the managerial elite. As these positions become more extreme, the people who hold them become more absolutist, cruel, and deeply undemocratic. In other words, they become everything we were once taught to fear from Trumpism.
Saturday, 2 April 2022
Let's narrow it down and call it green poverty
Energy price cap: Worst hit areas revealed as two in five households with children affected by fuel poverty
The estimates, exclusive to Sky News, show the scale of the impact of energy price rises on the most vulnerable in society.
Friday, 1 April 2022
Beyond Phantasy Mountain
I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a story for kids. I’m not quite sure of the age range I’m aiming for, but here is my initial effort.
Far, far away beyond Phantasy Mountain lies a magical land of mystery and mists but no unicorns. We can’t go there except in our imagination, but who knows? One day we may find a way over Phantasy Mountain and venture into the mysterious land which lies beyond.
In the land beyond Phantasy Mountain, everyone has a very strange idea which they follow through all the ups and down of their whole lives. Their strange idea is this - they always, try to be cheerful and sensible whatever difficulties life throws at them. Oh - and they don’t believe in unicorns.
They won’t tell lies about climate change, they know there are only two genders, they don't accuse each other of racism all the time and their rulers don’t change the law every five minutes. Their newspapers cheerfully refer to US President Joe Biden as a senile old fart, but of course they do it in the kindest possible way.
That’s as far the story goes at the moment because it doesn’t seem quite right when it comes to kids suspending their disbelief. That imaginary land beyond Phantasy Mountain has already drifted too far from the reality modern kids grow up with.
I've toyed with a few April Fool type posts but in a mad world they have to be either silly or a little too close to reality to work.
- A government wheeze to put oral vaccines in Easter eggs for example. Definitely not.
- A version of national service where everyone has to spend a year as the opposite gender to encourage tolerance. Nope - much too close to a real possibility that one.
- A government Happiness and Mindfulness Unit to promote... I couldn't even finish that one, much too nauseating.