Monday 31 July 2023

Model Y v Model T

Tongue in cheek of course, but it stirs up a few thoughts. 

An incomprehensible post-liberal political order

Commenter dearieme recently passed on a very interesting Daily Sceptic piece about official lockdown justifications. The whole piece is well worth reading but I'll quote just one section to give a flavour of it.

The extent to which states can be said to act upon clear motives at all is a further problem. A longstanding Plague Chronicle argument is that modern managerial government doesn’t have goals, motivations or purposes in any human sense. Our countries everyday do all kinds of truly insane things behind paper-thin justifications that bear no scrutiny. A lot of what is maligned as ‘conspiratorial’ discourse, on both the Left and the Right, represents an effort to reimpose logic on state actions, generally by positing that the stated goals are a pretence for some deeper, hidden purpose. Most of the time these analyses just aren’t convincing, and they function to obscure the blunt reality that we find ourselves beset by an incomprehensible post-liberal political order, in which state actions have been farmed out to a vastly complex network of stakeholders, NGOs, academics, bureaucrats and special advisory committees. For every area of policy the constellation of forces will be different, and nobody has any clear understanding of how the system works – not even the most powerful individuals in the midst of it all. Everything the state does is the sum of these thousands of different forces. What complicates this picture even further, is the fact that those responsible for policy formulation don’t act directly to shape outcomes in the outside world. Their motivations are almost always institutionally mediated, and for this reason much more confined and limited in perspective. They want to secure promotion and grant funding, they want to be thought well of by their peers, they want to satisfy their superiors, and many other petty careerist personal things of this nature.

The problem is not new, the Chesterton quote in the previous post is an aspect of the same thing, but the situation is even more complex today. Yet we still don't have concise ways to describe the problem in detail because as the Daily Sceptic piece says - nobody has any clear understanding of how the system works.

Sunday 30 July 2023

If nobody is running the show

Sitting here by the window over the past few weeks, I’ve seen parents taking their kids to school just before the joy of summer holidays, recycling bins being emptied, a couple of chaps replacing windows over the way, another chap building a garden wall and the Air Ambulance rumbling off somewhere overhead. Everyday life in other words.

About a year ago I posted the G.K. Chesterton quote below. It has niggled away ever since, because Chesterton was mostly right - there are vanishingly few public people important enough to be seriously missed when they are gone.

As a plain, practical man of the world, I must realize that it is the Prime Minister who has been murdered. As a plain, practical man of the world, I don’t think that the Prime Minister matters at all. As a mere matter of human importance, I should say he hardly exists at all. Do you suppose if he and the other public men were shot dead tomorrow, there wouldn’t be other people to stand up and say that every avenue was being explored, or that the Government had the matter under the gravest consideration? The masters of the modern world don’t matter. Even the real masters don’t matter much. Hardly anybody you ever read about in a newspaper matters at all.’

G. K. Chesterton – The Father Brown Stories (1929)

Yet day to day government carries on however irrelevant its political leaders are. It seems to be the outcome of huge numbers of people doing what they usually do. Complex pressures and influences working themselves out today as they did yesterday, money doing what it usually does, a culture of following procedures, doing things reasonably well. Sometimes done out in the open, often not.

If the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet were to be abducted by aliens today, new Cabinets would be in place tomorrow. Naturally there would be a certain amount of official consternation of the Something Must Be Done persuasion, but we’d be well rid of them and many people would know it.

So who really runs the show? Perhaps nobody does in a direct cause and effect sense. The show is an outcome of opaque complexities, not one with a managed and scripted beginning middle and end. It all seems to hang on enough people performing their roles reasonably well. 

If a culture of doing things reasonably well goes awry then this will be reflected in how the show runs. Failures will become obvious but not necessarily explicable. Yet the top-down nature of the show cannot make finely-judged corrections - it is all too complex and opaque. It has to collide with reality first - as we are discovering.

It's not the only unachievable commitment

HS2: Rail link rated 'unachievable' by infrastructure watchdog

The HS2 rail line has been given an "unachievable" rating by an official watchdog.

It has been given a "red" warning for its first two phases - from London to Birmingham then onto Crewe - by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

The project aims to create high-speed rail links between London and central and northern England, but has faced major delays and criticism.

The government says it remains committed to delivering HS2.

Not as unachievable as Net Zero so clearly the government has to be super-duper committed to delivering that.
They're all mad. Quite mad.

Saturday 29 July 2023

If only it made sense

Majority in [sic] fires in Greece were started by 'human hand', official says

Over 600 fires have swept across Greece scorching hundreds of square miles of land and leaving thousands holidaymakers stranded. Recent extreme heat in the Mediterranean has seen temperatures top 40C, as experts blame climate change for the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires.

Vassilis Kikilias told a news conference the vast majority of fires "were caused by human hands" and said they were "arsons either by criminal negligence or by intention".

However, officials have also highlighted the role of climate change in the recent extreme heat across many European countries.

Fake Lawns

Bin the plastic grass! A quarter of Britons now want fake lawns banned

Almost a quarter of Britons would be happy to support a full ban on the sale of fake plastic lawns.

Having a fake lawn fitted can seem appealing to weary homeowners - it means no pushing the lawnmower around and a consistent appearance.

If people don't try it we won't find out if it's worthwhile. Banning it is just as pointlessly intrusive as banning usually is. There are problems with it though.

A few years ago on the daily walk to Granddaughter's school, one of the houses we passed had a plastic lawn installed. Only a small front lawn so it was a quick job.

The morning after the plastic lawn was installed we noticed what looked like a neat pile of cat poo in the centre. This was cleaned off but a day or two later another little pile appeared in what seemed to be the exact centre of the lawn. A cat with an interest in geometry perhaps.

The battle between cat and lawn owner continued until eventually one of those electronic cat scarers appeared at the edge of the lawn. Didn't seem to make any difference though. I'm not sure how the contest ended.

Friday 28 July 2023

Let's hope the serious stuff is more secure

Ministry of Defence accidentally emails ally of Russia

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation after emails containing classified information were sent to a close ally of Russia in a typing error.

The emails were intended for the US military, which uses the domain name ".mil".

But they missed out the letter i, and so the messages went instead to the West African nation of Mali.

It leaves a chap wondering how much classified information is merely uninteresting waffle nobody can remember anyway. Filing cabinets still crammed with it probably. Nobody would collapse in astonishment if the formula for gunpowder turns out to be classified.

Just Another Opportunist

Nicole Lampert has a depressing CAPX piece on Keir Starmer. Depressing because it reminds us of our miserably limited options in the next "general election".

Flip-flopping Starmer can’t be trusted to defend women’s rights

Never forget that it was Keir Starmer who claimed it was ‘not right’ to say only women had a cervix, after death threats left his own MP, Rosie Duffield, too frightened to go to Labour conference.

Never forget that when Labour women were drummed out of the party for objecting to someone born male becoming a women’s officer in his party, he simply shrugged and said, ‘trans women are women’.

Never forget that even when it became clear that this dogma meant that predators could access female safe spaces and prisons by claiming to be trans, he said his party was ‘committed’ to introducing ‘gender self-identification’ – meaning that if a man wanted to claim to be a woman all he had to do was say it.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder that Starmer is a political opportunist and having said that there is little else to say about him. If a fashionable narrative is deranged he'll go with deranged. 

That he will do anything for power is, of course, no surprise. He is a politician, after all. But he’s been a leader for three years now and it is still impossible to know what he truly stands for. Jeremy Corbyn once said Jews ‘don’t understand English irony’. I wonder if Keir Starmer, for all his recently discovered fervour for fighting antisemitism, is missing the point of the famous Groucho Marx joke, ‘Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others’.

Thursday 27 July 2023

What comes after boiling?

Climate change: July set to be world's warmest month on record

Amid blistering heatwaves, July is "virtually certain" to be the world's warmest month on record, say scientists.

So hot has the month been to date that researchers are confident the 2019 record will be broken, even with several days to go.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said the planet is entering an "era of global boiling".

It isn't easy to imagine what comes after "global boiling". Something like "global charring" perhaps. Or maybe "global smelting". 

To grow or not to grow

An interesting photography video which is more about catering to a preferred audience than photography. From what I see it's a widespread video channel issue - those who seek to grow their audience have to make content compromises. 

This chap is saying that algorithms pushed him in that direction until he realised that what the algorithm wanted wasn't what he wanted. An old problem clothed in new technology.


Swamps v Sceptics

It can’t be a wildly uncommon issue this. You have a friend, relative or acquaintance who is pleasant, easy to talk to, intelligent and quite well-informed. Yet something is missing - you sometimes wish that he or she would be more sceptical.

Perhaps you wish that this friend, relative or acquaintance would be less inclined to believe official explanations, the media or TV news. Less prone to accept conventional viewpoints as facts without questioning them.

The brute necessity of believing something so long as life lasts does not justify any belief in particular; nor does it assure me that not to live would not, for this very reason, be far safer and saner. To be dead and have no opinions would certainly not be to discover the truth ; but if all opinions are necessarily false, it would at least be not to sin against intellectual honour. Let me then push scepticism as far as I logically can, and endeavour to clear my mind of illusion, even at the price of intellectual suicide.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Suppose we consider two aspects to intelligence. Firstly the traditional aspect of IQ and some vague add-ons such as retained knowledge and verbal agility. Secondly Santayana’s scepticism, clearing the mind of illusions about good or bad, true or false, dishonest or honest and so on.

Of the two, scepticism seems to be more important in that it is much less likely to lead us into illusions. As communication has become easier and broader over the past century or so, and especially in the digital age, popular illusions have become bigger, far more heavily promoted and more swamp-like. Even people who may be conventionally intelligent are sucked in if they are not natural sceptics.

Can scepticism be taught and learned? Possibly not.

…the faculty of judgment is a special talent which cannot be taught, but must be practised. This is what constitutes our so-called mother-wit, the absence of which cannot be remedied by any schooling. For although the teacher may offer, and as it were graft into a narrow understanding, plenty of rules borrowed of others, the faculty of using them rightly must belong to the pupil himself, and without that talent no precept that may be given is safe from abuse.

Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason (1781)

Kant’s mother-wit is a close relative of scepticism in this respect - without that talent no precept that may be given is safe from abuse. Including the scientific method, basic economic realities and even simple arithmetic.

An unfortunate effect of this vast swamp-like nature of modern illusions is that they resist change. Money is involved, often huge amounts of money. Plus reputations, education, careers, mortgages and an impossibly complex morass of vested interests.

Sceptics need the patience of Job in addition to their scepticism, because reality may take decades to drain away yet another swampy illusion.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Physically fictional – yet socially real

Steven Tucker has a fine Mercator piece on impossible ideological illnesses

Pregnant with meaning: impossible ideological illnesses

Certain forms of mental illness can only exist within the bounds of certain specific cultural contexts.

It is quite clear that the current epidemic wave of transgenderism amongst Western youth is a kind of socially transmitted psychological disease, or ‘culture-bound syndrome’, for example, but one other even odder such culture-bound mental disorder in existence today is Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome (PPS).

Seemingly only known from a series of rural villages in West Bengal near Calcutta, and also in a few urban slums in New Delhi where such villagers have since migrated in search of work, the condition’s name is surely self-explanatory.

The whole piece is well worth reading as it delves into modern transgender politics, drawing compelling parallels with PPS and the absurd malleability of susceptible minds.

Mum's the word

We in the West may laugh at the gullibility of the PPS-believing villagers of West Bengal coming to unthinkingly accept the reality of physically impossible acts of gestation at the behest of self-interested figures of local social authority such as the bara ojhas. Yet we here in the developed world would seem to have acquired our own domestic equivalents recently, in the shape of media, political and medical authorities whose public propaganda in the name of trans-issues is also increasingly warping susceptible minds about the topic of pregnancy.

An extraordinary blunder

NatWest boss Alison Rose resigns over Nigel Farage bank account leak

The bank called the resignation a "sad moment" while Dame Alison thanked colleagues for all they had done to grow the business in the four years she was chief executive.

NatWest chief executive Dame Alison Rose has resigned after admitting to being the source of an inaccurate story about Nigel Farage's bank account.

Her four-year tenure as chief executive has ended in ignominy over her admission that she had discussed Mr Farage's bank details with a BBC journalist.

It sounds like an extraordinary blunder, but there is perhaps a hint of something else in there. What that may be can only be guessed at, but discussing Farage's bank details with a BBC journalist comes across as even worse than a horribly naïve blunder. 

We might suppose that the CEO of a major bank can't possibly be that naïve but now we know otherwise. Which leaves us wondering how many other duds there are in equivalent positions. A large number would be a good starting point.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Must be Trump's fault

Biden’s dog Commander ‘bit seven people at the White House’ after other dog was expelled

President Joe Biden’s German shepherd Commander reportedly bit seven people in a four-month span last year, making him the second White House dog to exhibit aggressive behaviour after former first dog Major was removed from the residence due to similar conduct.

On 3 November, the White House physician’s office referred a bitten Secret Service officer to a local hospital for treatment after the dog bit down on the officer’s arm and thigh, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch.

A second incident took place on 10 November, when Commander allegedly bit an officer’s thigh while on a walk with first lady Jill Biden in the Kennedy Garden.

Days later, another officer described having to fend off the pet with a chair.

A small point, but somehow it comes as no surprise to learn that Joe has an untrustworthy dog. Maybe it's a family thing.

Scam Scam

Sadiq Khan warns drivers not to be fooled by scam Ulez websites

Sadiq Khan has warned drivers not to be fooled by scam websites which claim to offer an easier way of paying the Ultra low emission zone (Ulez) charge.

The mayor urged people driving non-compliant vehicles within the zone to ensure they pay the £12.50 charge using the official Transport for London (TfL) website.

He added that TfL was working to ensure its website is promoted by Google over “third party” platforms in search results.

The warning came after Len Duvall, Labour group leader on the London Assembly, said one of his Greenwich and Lewisham constituents had been “duped” into paying the charge by online “scammers”.

Whatever next? Begin at the beginning seems to be a sound approach. Firstly, Londoners need to know if Sadiq Khan is a real mayor with plausible policies or some kind of AI avatar invented by activists in the back room of a pub. Many Londoners must have their doubts.

Monday 24 July 2023

A precious extra second

Pedestrians to have extra second at green man to cross road

New recommendations will give people 7.3 seconds at a green man crossing to allow elderly and disabled people to use the road safely.

Walkers have 6.1 seconds to cross a normal road at a walking speed of 1.2 metres per second, according to current Department for Transport guidelines.

New recommendations by government agency Active Travel England (ATE), which is part of the Department of Transport, will allow 7.3 seconds to cross a road at one metre per second.

The most interesting part of this story is that we have a government agency called Active Travel England. We came across it indirectly via Granddaughter's recent Bikeability training at school. It's not a small agency either, not if this section from the website is any guide.

By making everyday journeys simple, easy and fun, Active Travel England is working to give people the choice to leave their car at home. We’ll do this by working alongside councils to:
  • give people an alternative to driving by delivering new, protected routes and junctions, and quieter roads and neighbourhoods
  • put active travel at the heart of towns and cities, including ensuring that £3.2 billion of government investment on active travel delivers to new high national standards
  • embed active travel into 1,000 major new developments, reducing local congestion

Back from the dead

How AI is bringing film stars back from the dead

One such icon is the American film actor James Dean, who died in 1955 in a car accident after starring in just three films, all of which were highly acclaimed. Yet now, nearly seven decades after he died, Dean has been cast as the star in a new, upcoming movie called Back to Eden.

Does this also mean we'll soon be able to vote for and bring back the best politicians of the past? Could we bring back Edward Heath and hang him? Lots of interesting questions.

Sunday 23 July 2023

The New Normal


Another Hidden Hand

Suppose we ramble around the recently published table of BBC salaries. There are many things we could say about dividing the licence loot in this way, but even if we take a relaxed view, it seems out of place in an outfit supposedly committed to equality.

BBC salaries do not seem to reflect ability, talent or a market for TV presenters, but rather a consequence of something wider - the ascendency of a social class. They are perhaps a reminder of a comment by Melanie Phillips - our elites are ignorant, bigoted and irrational. Why? Perhaps because this too is a consequence of something wider. Perhaps it is necessary for them to be this way - a feature rather than a fault.

Moving on but not very far. How does a government assert and retain its ascendency over the general population apart from force? As truth is relentlessly democratic, ascendency has to be maintained in a way which does not validate itself via a dispassionate search for truth. In a search for truth there is nothing to validate elite ascendency.

Ascendency is no longer exhibited by top hats, haughty manners and superior accents - they belong to the past. Too visible for a modern age. Yet elite ascendency cannot be validated by superior knowledge either, because knowledge is not sufficiently exclusive and too easily checked. It’s the truth problem again. Elite ascendency cannot be accessible to all.

All of which leads us to a world which may not make sense wherever it supposedly validates elite ascendency. It never does that. Elite ascendency cannot be maintained by superior truth, superior knowledge or a superior level of accountability. The problem is a consequence of what elite ascendency is.

Elites exhibit much of their ascendency via irrational narratives and the mediation of those narratives by elites themselves and by their minions. Yet over time, irrational narratives cannot fulfil their claims and implications, so accountability is off the agenda. Again, lack of accountability is a consequence of what elite ascendency is.

We see a grotesque example of this in North Korea where elites propagate regime narratives to the exclusion of almost everything else in every aspect of daily life. Yet North Korean elites are almost never responsible for narrative failures. Brute force is used to push the responsibility down to minions.

What we end up with is the hidden hand of ascendency, a consequence of what ascendency is. It is maintained by ignorant and irrational narratives mediated by elites and their minions. It is further maintained by bigotry directed by rulers against the ruled, because the search for truth cannot be tolerated as a universal ideal. Another consequence.

Even those who are seen to value a genially dispassionate search for truth may be labelled as bad people. The bigotry is a feature too.

Possible pledge pain

Dropping green pledges would be ‘political suicide’, Sunak and Starmer warned

Britain’s leaders have been warned against a “politically suicidal” lurch away from their green pledges as concerns grow that both major parties may dilute their plans to combat the climate crisis in the wake of a shock byelection result.

Senior figures from business, the scientific community and across the political divide warned that any watering down of climate policies would be deeply unpopular with voters, set back the international fight to reach net zero and damage Britain’s green reputation.

There are fears that both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will loosen their support for such policies after the Conservatives’ surprise win in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip byelection on Thursday. The Tories narrowly won the seat, by just 495 votes, with a campaign that capitalised on opposition to plans by London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan to extend the ultra low emission zone (Ulez).

Hmm - so a clear enough by-election vote against ULEZ suggests that dropping green schemes such as ULEZ would lose votes. It isn't easy to see how gaining votes is politically worse than losing them , but maybe recycled, repurposed reasoning tells those "senior figures" that this is so. 

Or maybe subsidy dilution causes climate change too.

Saturday 22 July 2023

A lot of voters think prices are falling

Ryan Bourne has an interesting CAPX piece on a surprising aspect of the public perception of inflation.

A lot of voters think prices are falling – and that should worry Rishi Sunak

An occupational hazard for politicians is having their remarks misrepresented by newspaper headline writers. Yesterday’s Daily Express front page offers a humdinger of an example. Reporting on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s reaction to inflation falling, the paper’s splash declares, ‘Prices Must Drop Now Inflation Has Fallen‘ (their emphasis).

At best, this is hugely misleading. At worst, it’s a horrible error.

As it's the Daily Express it could be either. Or both.

The rate of increase in prices, in other words, has been falling. But just as decelerating in a car moving forwards isn’t the same as it going in reverse, falling inflation doesn’t mean prices are going down; nor is there any reason why they ‘must’ fall as a result of falling inflation in future.

Somebody internalising this headline, and front page, would surely think otherwise. And this is worrying because, as last week’s report from the National Institute of Social and Economic Research showed, a lot of the public confuse falling inflation with falling prices.

Their survey asked people about the phrase ‘the inflation rate has fallen from 10.1% to 6.1%’. Only 44% of the public correctly identified that this meant ‘prices are still rising, but now they are only rising by 6.1%’. A huge 36% of the public thought this meant prices had fallen (most by 4%). This sort of headline risks compounding this error.

Dumped turbine blades


Studies are under way

Here in Derbyshire as I sip my morning coffee, the gas fire is flickering away because outside it's grey, wet and unseasonably cold.

Not what we've been promised for decades by the climate crowd in other words. Maybe I should check what the BBC is telling us. For entertainment value only you understand -

Dangerous heatwaves in Europe could break further records, the UN says.

It is hard to immediately link these events to climate change because weather - and oceans - are so complex.

Studies are under way, but scientists already fear some worst-case scenarios are unfolding.

Ah - so I can't immediately link this grey, wet and unseasonably cold weather to climate change because it's all so complex. No matter - studies are under way. That would be paid studies of course. Those paid studies which have been under way for decades.

Friday 21 July 2023

The fake fuse

Ed Davey: byelection win shows ‘Lib Dems are back’ in south-west England

Leader says party will use victory in Somerton and Frome as springboard to further success

In keeping with a tradition begun in Chesham and Amersham, when Davey demolished a mocked-up blue wall, there was another heavily literal photo opportunity, this time involving yellow confetti being fired from a blue mock circus cannon.

Standing in front of a wall of Lib Dem placards, Davey held a giant cardboard match to the cannon, emblazoned with the words “Get these clowns out of No. 10!” while behind him an activist used an actual flame to light a fake fuse, ahead of a countdown to the confetti burst.

A fake fuse describes "Sir" Ed quite well - he isn't going to set off any political fireworks. I suppose he has done quite well out of it though.

Yet I'm surprised he associated himself with an image of clowns and circuses, even as a gibe at the other lot. Lib Dems supposedly see themselves as politically sophisticated, but Ed is clearly telling them they aren't. Some may even notice. 

No experience needed

New Labour MP Keir Mather, 25, likened to 'The Inbetweeners' over his age

Johnny Mercer has compared Labour’s new MP for Selby and Ainsty to an “Inbetweener” as he made a jibe over his age.

Challenged on what he meant by that, he replied: “You’ve got to have people who’ve actually done stuff. This guy, you know, has been to Oxford University more than he’s been in a job."

A familiar problem which unfortunately doesn't count as a problem on the modern political stage. He could be another William Pitt the Younger of course, but it seems vanishingly unlikely. Not everyone is concerned about his age and inexperience though - Crayons seems to think it's okay. 

Angela Rayner, the Deputy Labour Leader, noted her own child was in school by the time she was 25 years old.

Let's hazard a wild guess

Why are there no e-bikes in Derby? Bikes vanish from city centre but council says scheme not scrapped

A reporter saw no e-bikes available to hire at three key parking bays

Derby’s new e-bikes appear to have vanished from the city centre but the council says the scheme has not been scrapped. In April, the council said 150 vehicles were being made available to the public as part of the first phase of a new transport scheme being run by e-bike operator Lime.

But recent tweets and emails forwarded to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) saw people asking where the e-bikes had gone. The LDRS visited three designated parking bays in and around Derby city centre on Thursday afternoon (July 20) to see no vehicles at all available for hire.

Thursday 20 July 2023

An excuse for meddling

Christopher Snowdon has a useful CAPX piece on the preventative healthcare myth.

‘Preventative’ healthcare is just an excuse for meddling in peoples’ lives

Patients have always been a problem for the NHS. If it wasn’t for the burden of people needing medical assistance, the system would work fine.

The health establishment has convinced itself that there would be less pressure on the NHS if people were healthier. This is widely believed and feels almost intuitive. As the Oxford Handbook of Health Economics drily notes, ‘it is frequently argued (but not by economists) that prevention will save expenditure on future treatment’. Economists are the exception because they have looked at the evidence and understand that while premature mortality can be prevented, mortality cannot. When people live longer they consume more healthcare, most of which is needed after retirement age, when they are taking more out of the tax pot than they put it.

Nevertheless, the myth that preventative health saves money persists. It acts as a handy distraction from the failings of the NHS and the inevitable costs that come from having an ageing population. It also gives paternalists an excuse for interfering in other people’s lives. Ask not what the NHS can do for you, but what you can do for the NHS.

The whole piece is quite short and well worth reading. Yes, ‘preventative’ healthcare is just an excuse for meddling in peoples’ lives. It's the meddling which seems to be important, not the healthcare. Meddling is where the meddler's employment prospects lurk.

Make heatwaves illegal

Does the UK need to have its own heatwave laws like Europe?

Experts are calling for stronger laws in the UK to protect people from heat stress for when it is too hot to work amid record-breaking heatwaves sweeping the planet from China to Europe and the US...

The UK currently has a respite from extreme weather as rains have kept temperatures down. But heatwaves are becoming increasingly common in the country, according to the Met Office, as it recorded its hottest June ever this year and smashed all-time temperature records last year.

Wasn't Net Zero supposed to tackle this issue? 

Yet there is a definite correlation with the number of experts we have accumulated in recent decades and the number of predicted disasters lurking just over the horizon. Increase the number of experts and we seem to increase the number and severity of predicted disasters. 

Correlation is not causation as the experts don't always tell us, but in this case we may have a pointer to a worthwhile course of action. We could simply reduce the number of experts to see if that reduces the number of predicted disasters.  

Many reputable bodies

Venezuela is suffering one of the worst modern global economic and humanitarian crises. Extreme poverty, hunger, hyperinflation, unemployment, violence and low incomes have driven at least 7 million people away from the country over the past decade, according to data from the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR).

Fortunately -

Now, as reported by El Pais, Venezuela is slowly rising from the ashes. With inflation no longer as high, the increase in the value of the Venezuelan Bolivar has created some breathing room. This is in part owing to oil production boosting the economy after the lifting of sanctions. Moreover, natural gas exports to Europe have been negotiated to add an extra source of income for this regrowing economy.

Unfortunately -

The world must immediately halt new oil and gas development and transition rapidly to renewable energy to stop climate change, conclude many reputable bodies, including Nature, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK House of Commons.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Somewhere everlastingly and eternally ahead

In Booth Tarkington’s 1927 novel The Plutocrat, Laurence Ogle, a young playwright, undertakes a North African tour where he keeps running across Mr Tinker, the plutocrat of the title. In spite of Tinker’s wealth and partly because of it, Ogle initially looks down on him as loud, rich, brash and shallow.

Yet eventually Ogle comes to realise that Tinker is the better man, honest, generous and far more in touch with the real world than Ogle has ever been and ever could be. Eventually Ogle asks himself –

Was this inept creature, this childishly loose, childishly tricky creature, this over-lavish, careless, bragging, noisy, money-getting and money-worshipping creature a “new Roman?”

Here, Tinker explains his homespun philosophy to John Edwards, the tour courier.

“Well, to-day we’re here and we’ve got our chance; and the one single and only thing in the universe that’s plain, John Edwards, it’s this.” Here he became solemnly emphatic, and put his heavy hand upon the courier’s shoulder. “The somewhere we’re goin’ to, and got to go to if we don’t want to get wiped out, it’s somewhere everlastingly and eternally ahead! It’s like to-morrow; when we get there we aren’t there; we got to keep goin’, and we got to everlastingly and eternally keep goin’ — and goin’ fast! If we don’t, the Almighty hasn’t got a bit o’ use for us; He turns us right into dust and scattered old bones, and nothin’s left of our whole country and our finest cities except some street paving and a few cellars with weeds in ’em. You get me, John?”

Booth Tarkington – The Plutocrat (1927)

It’s a fascinating novel because Tinker is right, we have no way of standing still, no way to settle for the here and now. Tomorrow there is another here and now then another. Ideologies and cultures are of no lasting value unless they allow us to adapt and adapt again forever.

The somewhere we’re goin’ to, and got to go to if we don’t want to get wiped out, it’s somewhere everlastingly and eternally ahead!

Not the smartest CEO


Falsely Fingered

Weeks in jail after false claim man bit someone's finger off in Normanton

He was falsely accused of attacking someone in the street

A Derby man spent four weeks in jail after falsely being accused of biting a man’s finger off during an assault. Benjamin Wilson called the police to say the end of one of his middle fingers had been bitten off by the man during an attack in Normanton.

The person alleged to have carried it out was arrested, charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and remanded into custody. But, while the investigation continued, it became apparent that Wilson had lost the tip of the digit by another means, possibly by trapping it in a door.

Dixon of Dock Green never had to deal with incidents of this type. It's another side to policing, having to deal with such people. 

Middle class folk gluing themselves to busy roads must make a pleasant change. Worth spinning out for as long as possible - I know I would.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

What is it with Oxfam?

Len Shackleton has a worthwhile CAPX piece on the well-known decline of Oxfam.

Oxfam is up to its old anti-capitalist tricks again…

What is it with Oxfam?

This huge international charity, founded in 1942 as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief to help the starving citizens of Nazi-occupied Greece, has over the decades done excellent work in the developing world, or what we must now call the Global South. But in recent years it seems to have lost its way.

There was the scandalous behaviour of its operatives in Haiti and Chad , and later in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the inadequate way in which Oxfam reacted to reports of gross sexual misconduct, intimidation and bullying. This meant that the organisation has twice been temporarily banned from bidding for UK government aid funds , which constitute a significant chunk of its income.

There have been accusations that Oxfam has been consistently anti-Israel if not outright anti-Semitic, and in 2015 its Belgian affiliate was accused of indirectly funding Palestinian terrorism.

Well worth reading as yet another example of a once respected organisation which has declined, not into irrelevance, but into useful idiot status. The BBC is another example.

In March this year, the charity waded into the culture wars by publishing a 92-page document urging its staff to change words such as mother and father to the more inclusive ‘parent’, and expectant mothers ‘people who become pregnant’. A few weeks later, this standard-issue wokery was followed up by an extraordinary video post celebrating Pride Month, but appearing to depict JK Rowling as a hateful ‘Terf’.

Leaving all this stuff aside, a constant in Oxfam’s public personality for several years has been its taste for full-blooded attacks on the capitalist system, asserting that it’s a rip-off that immiserates the poor – a claim naturally accompanied by demands for massive political intervention and confiscatory levels of taxation.

And nothing will be done.

Poisoning the Pi

Steven Tucker has an interesting Mercator piece on the recent history of politicised school maths lessons.

Recent left-wing attempts to subvert maths curricula hold some awkward historical parallels

Mathematics is, stereotypically-speaking, supposed to be the most ideologically, culturally and morally impartial of all subjects under the sun. Yes, us fallen humans can use maths to do bad things – to calculate how much explosive to add to a bomb, say – but numbers themselves are neutral. Certainly, I have yet to encounter a sexist fraction or a racist cone-section.

Yet in Britain, headlines were recently made when the QAA, a university standards (-lowering) body, released official guidance for mathematics courses, to the effect that “Values of EDI [Equality, Diversity, Inclusion – i.e. wokeness] should permeate the [maths] curriculum and every aspect of the learning experience to ensure the diverse nature of society in all its forms is evident.”

One of the specific ways in which the QAA suggested this “essential” goal could be achieved was by professors shame-facedly informing their students that mathematics itself had frequently operated as a tool of white supremacy throughout its long and chequered past, even to the extent that “historically, some mathematicians have recorded racist or fascist views or connections to groups such as the Nazis.”

Well, this is true. Some obscure mathematicians were indeed committed Nazis, like Ludwig Bieberbach. But, likewise – and I find it difficult to believe this fact actually now needs to be stated – the vast majority of mathematicians throughout history were not Nazis at all. Doubtless some train-drivers, pig-farmers and stamp-collectors in 1930s Germany were fascists also. Next time they hop on public transport, eat a sausage or post a letter, do the general public really need to be piously reminded of this appalling fact lest they absent-mindedly allow another Führer to rise to power some dark day soon?

The whole piece is well worth reading as yet another reminder of how dogmatic and intolerant modern political ideologies have become. One litmus test for dogmatic ideology is the furtive determination to insert it into school lessons where it is not in itself relevant. It's one indicator that the orthodox climate narrative is one strand of a wider political ideology.

Religious extremists also subvert maths curricula to similar ends. In 2020, it emerged that UK aid money given to Palestine had been used to fund Islamist textbooks where nine-year-olds were challenged to calculate the number of martyred terrorists from various anti-Israeli uprisings down the years, accompanied by charming photographs of their funerals. That wokeists are increasingly acting similarly provides further evidence the whole movement is just a contemporary secular cult.

I used to quite happily teach in religious Catholic schools myself -- which critics may also deride as ideological indoctrination-factories -- but Catholic content there was strictly restricted to assemblies and religious education classes, not any other subjects. Maths lessons did not require children to calculate how many Vatican missionaries were required to convert the benighted heathen in Country X or determine how many innocent infant souls were lost to abortion each year.

Monday 17 July 2023

Expensive telephone

Apple iPhone from 2007 sells for more than £145,000 at auction in US

Described by LCG Auctions as "one of the most important and ubiquitous inventions of our lifetime", the auction of the "exceedingly rare" factory-sealed 4GB model was originally expected to raise up to around £75,000.

Its final sale price was $190,372.80 (£145,531.44) with the device attracting 28 bids.

I suppose the buyer isn't likely to be mugged for it once the would-be mugger sees it's just a really old phone from the digital dark ages. Like being casually mugged for a Tracy Emin drawing - it seems unlikely. 

The nightmare sound of cackling laughter

Bernard Carpenter has a chilling TCW reminder about affirmative action and one of its products - Kamala Harris.

Affirmative action and the nightmare that is Kamala Harris

AS I write, progressive Americans are experiencing a collective hissy fit of Wagnerian proportions. It’s a joy to watch. The Supreme Court of the United States of America (SCOTUS) ruled recently that it is unconstitutional for colleges and universities to factor in the race of prospective students being considered for admission. Judging by the hysteria among left-leaning elites, one would think the judiciary had made possible the return of Jim Crow and indentured servitude. The left has made an art form of theatrically exaggerated overreaction...

However, if you want to see how affirmative action has not only poisoned this great nation but how it might contribute to the destruction of the nation that remains the last, best hope of mankind – or, as Justin Trudeau would have it, ‘peoplekind’ – look no further than Kamala Harris, vice president of the United States and a heartbeat away from becoming the most powerful chief executive on earth.

It's a reminder of what we know, but the whole piece is well worth reading as irreversible consequences become more obvious year by year.

Recently, Harris attended the Essence Festival of Culture, organised by Essence, a magazine aimed at black women. Asked to explain the role of culture in enhancing and securing the achievements of African-Americans, she treated her audience to one of her delectable word salads that have become the hallmark of her vice presidency.

‘Culture is . . .’ she informs us after a slight pause, ‘it is a reflection of our moment and our time. Right?’ she asks, seeking reassurance from her interlocutors. ‘And present culture is the way we express how we’re feeling about the moment and we should always find times to express how we feel about the moment. That is a reflection of joy. Because,’ she adds, in an inexplicable allusion to Psalm 30, ‘[joy] comes in the morning,’ before bursting into that cackling laughter which can engender suicidal thoughts in vulnerable people, including the current author.

Football Hooligans

Sunday 16 July 2023

We don't need no members

The National Trust must become more like Extinction Rebellion’

The National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds need to be more like Extinction Rebellion, one of its leading activists has said.

Roc Sandford, 65, known as an aristocratic millionaire hermit and radical environmental activist who strategises from his hut on the tiny Scottish island of Gometra, said: “They’re not pulling their weight on using the tremendous power they’ve got just through their membership numbers to drive policy change.”

Maybe some of our politicians and media folk could strategise from huts. Net Zero huts of course, with Net Zero facilities.

Net Zero and Bulldozers

Julian Mann has a depressing TCW piece on the C of E’s bulldozer enthusiasm for Net Zero.

The C of E’s Net Zero mania

CONFIRMATION services in the Church of England are about to become politicised after the General Synod voted to include a liturgical response to ‘the climate emergency’.

The July sessions in York saw the bitter divisions in the C of E laid bare, particularly over sexual morality and in the row over the sacking by the Archbishops’ Council of two members of the Church’s Independent Safeguarding Board. It was on the last morning of the five-day hate-in that the Synod voted overwhelmingly for the ‘Responding to the Climate Emergency’ motion moved by the suffragan Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham, on behalf of Oxford Diocese.

A firm believer in the bulldozer as a means of achieving Net Zero in the national Church’s property portfolio, Bishop Graham intoned in her concluding remarks in the debate last Tuesday: ‘On buildings retro-fitting is not always the answer. We need bespoke solutions for each building clearly and sometimes the bulldozer is the best one but sometimes retro-fitting is and we have just completed our first retro-fit in Oxford Diocese at the cost, I believe, of £75,000 but we now have a Net Zero vicarage. We hope that it is the first of many.’

She further proclaimed: ‘Ninety per cent of a church’s entire carbon footprint lies with the congregation . . . Let us be in no doubt, Synod, that we cannot invent or spend our way out of this crisis. It’s going to need us to change.’ In case you think I am making this up, here is a video of the debate, with Bishop Graham making her appearance about two hours in.

Quite mad, but the whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of the destructive link between bulldozers and political fads.

Thus salvation, according to the new secular eco-religion endorsed by the C of E, would appear to be by building works rather than by the grace of God, and works that millions of working people in Britain are not able to afford. A diocese such as Oxford, one of the wealthiest in the C of E, may well be able to afford to create Net Zero vicarages but for many people struggling to pay their mortgages re-fitting their homes would be an unbearable burden.

What torrential downpour?


From Dave R

Saturday 15 July 2023

Zeihan On Scottish Independence

Scottish independence from an American geopolitical analyst's perspective. The SNP wouldn't agree of course.

Healthy Eating

Dr Baz Broxtowe of Fradley University has recently embarked on a series of lectures about diet and what people should consider when they shop for food. I managed to catch up with him over a morning coffee shortly before the lecture I was due to attend.

“It’s fundamentally simple,” Dr Baz told, sipping his favourite coffee with three shots of coffee, whipped cream, cinnamon syrup and a sprinkling of pickled pistachios.

“Yet all the experts manage to make it so complicated,” was my immediate reaction. “Fats, proteins, carbs, minerals and vitamins only seem to be the start of it.”

“All those things matter,” Dr Baz replied, “but fundamentally eating is good for you while not eating leads to all kinds of disadvantageous health issues.”

“Eating as opposed to not eating?”


“But surely,” I protested, “surely dietary advice is not about eating or not eating, it’s about the nutritional quality, additives and long term health aspects of what we eat.”

“Have you waded through millions and millions of pages what is supposedly expert dietary advice?” asked Dr Baz.

“Well no - there is so much of it – “

“Exactly. Wade through that lot and you wouldn’t want to eat anything. My advice is eat something rather than nothing and it may as well be what you enjoy. That’s all there is to it.”

“So the lectures must be really short?”

“In a way they are. I just leave a note on the lecture room door telling people to eat whatever suits them. Adults shouldn’t need telling what to eat.”

Sunak and the Blob

Fred de Fossard has a worthwhile Critic piece on Rishi Sunak and his inability to make an impact on the Blob.

Sunak drifts towards irrelevance

The PM seems to have no ambitions beyond not being Liz or Boris

In mid-June, Robert Peston posted a curious tweet:

Rishi Sunak’s closest allies are telling the PM that Boris Johnson is definitively finished after today’s judgement, and that therefore he can govern in his own image with more confidence and without having to look over his shoulder in fear of the ex-PM’s disapproval. “Boris is irrelevant now” said a minister. “Rishi has 18 months to pursue his own agenda. He should use it”.

As any reader can tell, there is little evidence of this confidence and verve emerging. Last week, Tim Shipman painted a picture in the Sunday Times of a despondent Prime Minister, who feels his bargain with the world was not coming as good as he had hoped. Hard work and appearing competent are not the only ingredients required to run a country.

The piece is worth reading as another angle on what looks like political drift but isn't. Sunak's inability to make an impact is his inability to reform the stranglehold of vested interests which prevent him from making that impact. This in turn is his inability to make voting worthwhile. Or his unwillingness to make it worthwhile.

Perhaps he actually has no desire to reform the state anyway. When questioned about the failures of the Tory party to overcome the blob in the administrative state, the Prime Minister said he did not even recognise the blob as a concept. Despite endless evidence of taxpayer-funded charities and activists working with obstructionist officials to subvert an elected government’s policy on everything from immigration and crime, to education and Brexit, the Prime Minister does not see it. Just as a fish cannot see water, so Sunak and many of his ministers cannot see the blob from within.

Friday 14 July 2023

Other things to do, books I haven't read

Douglas Murray has better things to do than take much notice of the Pride movement. In telling us why, he is far too incisive for the BBC, or indeed the House of Commons.

Oh dear, how sad, never mind

Hollywood strike: Hollywood will grind to a complete halt as actors and writers both walk out - it could last for months

This dual strike, the first for 63 years, means the entertainment industry will grind to a complete halt almost immediately.

Without writers and actors, very little can be achieved.

I've fired up my online concern detector but at the moment it reads zero. I've tapped it a few times and put in new batteries but nope - it still reads zero.

Ninety-five percent

Imagine an orthodox, middle-aged climate scientist who thinks the fossil fuel catastrophe narrative is quite likely to be wrong. To clarify this, maybe that imaginary climate scientist would admit to himself that the catastrophe narrative has a ninety-five percent chance of being wrong. Not that the numbers mean much, but he thinks in those terms.

This leaves him in a position where the catastrophe narrative has a five percent chance of being right. In other words he can push on with his career with a clear conscience. He might discover something useful and in any event, the consequences of being right are so extremely severe.

It’s an application of the so-called precautionary principle.

The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) is a broad epistemological, philosophical and legal approach to innovations with potential for causing harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing and review before leaping into new innovations that may prove disastrous. Critics argue that it is vague, self-cancelling, unscientific and an obstacle to progress.

The critics are right, but it allows our imaginary climate scientist to be both sceptic and believer within the same skin. We could adjust those percentages to ninety-nine percent and one percent but it makes no difference.
The argument is familiar in various guises and is widely applicable. Net Zero the, pandemic response, epidemiology, ever tighter traffic regulations, air quality, food additives and so on and so on.

Thursday 13 July 2023

A four-day week

Elliot Keck has an entertaining CAPX piece on the public sector four-day week scheme.

A four-day week for councils is nothing but a public sector get-rich-quick scheme

On paper, the four-day week sounds marvellous. Who wouldn’t be tempted, after all, by the prospect of working fewer hours for the same salary?

Its proponents share an almost messianic zeal for the idea, which has become a totem for progressive, modern working practices. For those hoping to expand this practice to the public sector, an apparently successful trial by South Cambridgeshire District Council is proof that it’s a policy whose time has come.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of how extraordinarily dishonest the public sector can be when it really tries. Even so, this level of dishonesty deserves some recognition. A six-day week is my suggestion. 

Any organisation moving to a four-day week would have to increase their productivity by 25% to get five days’ worth of work into four. Failing to do so would mean a loss for local taxpayers, who would be paying the same for lower output. And even with the 25% increase, we would just be breaking even.

The problem is that such a rise in productivity would be utterly unprecedented in the public sector.

In the 20 years up to 2019, public sector productivity only increased by 4.1%. Are we really expected to believe that a council can achieve a 25% increase in productivity at the drop of the hat? There’s no evidence that this could happen, and taxpayers would be left either with a worse service or a huge bill for the extra staff who would need to be recruited to maintain service levels.


Barbie mania hits London! Hot pink Doctor Who Tardis appears next to Tower Bridge

Barbie mania has officially hit London with a hot pink Doctor Who Tardis popping up in the British capital.

The European movie premiere for Greta Gerwig's live-action 'Barbie' film takes place at Cineworld Leicester Square later today (12.07.23), with Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Simu Liu and more expected to attend.

And in honour of the iconic Mattel doll, London has been painted pink for 'Barbie’s Best.Day.Ever', with Barbie-themed taxi cabs, Barbie's actual Corvette car, and best of all, a 'Doctor Who' Tardis.

I saw an appropriately pithy comment on this somewhere -

God help us.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Story Time

‘It’s not climate change, it’s everything change’: sci-fi authors take on the global crisis

Some of the biggest names writing in the genre have tackled the climate crisis and its apocalyptic or dystopian consequences – Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Bruce Sterling’s Heavy Weather.

But a new generation of writers now believes it is impossible to write “near future” sci-fi without putting the climate emergency at the forefront of their speculative fiction. For many, this is because they are living through the crisis and can imagine all too easily what may happen if real-life behaviour doesn’t change.

A major sceptical criticism of the orthodox climate narrative is the fictional aspect. The last sentence is  an obvious example - For many, this is because they are living through the crisis... 

Nobody is living through the crisis because there is no crisis. We only observe what we have always observed - good, bad and normal weather. Sometimes the impact is serious, usually it isn't - as always. 

The fictional aspect is interesting, as if there are people who do not want to see a clear difference between real life and fictional stories. 

Why do so many intelligent people dislike the Guardian? It seems to be the stories. It is too obvious that they are stories, too obviously fictional for an adult world. It is embarrassing that adults read them and think they reflect a genuine aspect of reality.  

The Monster and the Lie

Over three million views so many will have seen this video, but worth posting for those who haven't. From the video description -

Listen as Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Dr. Miriam Grossman walk us through the horrific yet true story behind the Reimer twins. The atrocity of their upbringing, branded as a successful experiment by Dr. John Money, was used as the bedrock of gender and identity ideology that has captured the western world today.

Carry On Spending

Philip Patrick has a useful TCW reminder of the SNP spending addiction.

Carry On Spending! The SNP’s farcical Egyptian jolly

IT USED to be typical for 70s sitcoms to set a film-length edition overseas, usually on the pretext of a works outing or group holiday. Cue culture shock hilarity and national stereotypes of a sort somewhat out of fashion these days. But revelations that the Scottish government spent £150,000 of taxpayers’ money taking a large cast and crew on the road to a five-star resort in Sharm El Sheikh for last November’s COP 27 (with a nice wee stopover in Milan) revives memories of the sitcom trope. Minus the hilarity, of course (the SNP produce the least humorous politicians on the planet).

I remember an observation made by my school history teacher in the 1960s. He told us how in what was then the not so distant past, there had always been MPs prepared to stand up and quibble about every penny of government spending. "It is not like that today" he told us. That was over fifty years ago.

If any of this could be fixed, the devolution settlement might be the best place to start, with far more oversight and much greater scrutiny urgently needed. Devoid of any real accountability or likelihood of losing office, and supremely confident that Westminster would continue to sign the cheques come what may, a ‘spend, spend, spend’ mentality developed on a ministerial and personal level during the SNP era.

There are now 28 members in the bloated incubus that is the Scottish government cabinet (Donald Dewar made do with nine in the first Scottish ‘executive’ in 1999) all with staff, limousines and expense accounts. It seems there is always room for another first-class customer on the gravy train with plum jobs which seem to have been plucked from the BBC’s W1A. For instance Julie Hepburn, wife of Minister for Independence Jamie, has recently been appointed to the new role of ‘head of strategic delivery’, no doubt with a generous salary. This has to stop.

It won't stop though. If voters won't stop it, then it is beyond the reach of worthwhile political change until the slow-grinding wheels of reality shift the spending debate in ways voters won't like.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Blimey - that's ironic

Boris and Carrie Johnson announce birth of third child - a boy called Frank

The couple, who had their first two children while Boris Johnson was prime minister, said via Carrie's Instagram account that they were "loving every minute", after the birth of Frank Alfred Odysseus.

July seems to be missing

Another grey day with a few heavy showers and rumbles of thunder here in Derbyshire. Another day when we can't sit out under the trees in the garden. I've checked the calendar and it still seems to be July which in previous years has been a summer month. Maybe climate change has repurposed it into some kind of intermediate month.

Perhaps the BBC has an explanation, although at the moment it seems to be concerned with paying huge sums of money to people I've never heard of. The market for nonsense, trivia and Autocue expertise certainly seems buoyant.

Twitter Witter

Twitter wins big name backer against Threads - but it's the Taliban

The Taliban has long had a presence on Twitter, even before Elon Musk bought the company last October. The group is banned from rival platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and the popular new Threads.

A leader of the hardline Islamist group, which seized power in Afghanistan in summer 2021, said Elon Musk's platform was a tolerant place that allowed freedom of speech to thrive.

Anas Haqqani offered his endorsement in a tweet on Monday, as it emerged that Meta's new Twitter-like platform had amassed more than 100 million users in less than a week.

"Other platforms cannot replace it," he said of Twitter, citing its commitment to "freedom of speech" and its "public nature and credibility".

"Twitter doesn't have an intolerant policy like Meta," he added.

Mainstream media seem to be uneasy about levels of censorship which are more relaxed than their own. They cater for quite narrow comfort zones and don't seem at all keen on the possibility that Twitter could hoover up a wider and more diverse social media market. Ironic that.

Monday 10 July 2023

Saying it proper

Train company says they've been pronouncing Derbyshire town incorrectly and records announcements again

A train company says they've been pronouncing the name of a Derbyshire town incorrectly. Northern says they've been saying Ilkeston the wrong way, alongside several other places on their routes.

They're now amending the pronunciation from Il-kes-ston to Ilks-tonne but they're also appealing for advice if they've made a mistake - meaning there's still time to offer Il-son as an alternative. Tricia Williams, chief operating officer at Northern, said: “I’d like to thank everyone that has sent in their feedback so far.

Well I'll go to the bottom of our stairs - I've never heard Ilkeston pronounced Ilks-tonne. 

I've heard it pronounced Il-kes-ston for nigh on forty years come t'backend. Sometimes Il-son as a nod to the old timers' dialect and sometimes Dump, but Ilks-tonne is all my eye and Betty Martin.

Where immigration is not an option

A look behind N. Korea’s clumsy efforts to improve its birthrate

The state focuses on flawed ideology rather than investigating and formulating policies to address the root causes behind the growing number of women avoiding marriage and having children

At the Third Plenary Meeting of the Eighth Party Central Committee in June 2021, Kim Jong Un announced that “creating a better environment for child rearing is of utmost policy importance and is the party’s greatest wish, regardless of the costs.” The 2021 meeting was the first time the country’s “child rearing issue” had been mentioned during a party plenary meeting.

Just two weeks after Kim’s remarks on the subject, province, county, and city-level organizations across the country began internally circulating materials titled, “The Central Committee Organization and Guidance Department’s Guidelines and Plans for Investigating the Ideology of Women Who Try to Avoid Marriage or Do Not Have Many Children After Marriage.”

North Korea is fascinatingly horrible. Lunatic bureaucrats with absolute power and a rigid ideology conduct their daily battles with human nature. Quite mad but fascinatingly mad. 

One Thursday Afternoon On The Moon


Sunday 9 July 2023

The politics of strict schools

Tim Clark has a CAPX piece on school discipline.

Starmer should acknowledge that strict schools are better for students

Keir Starmer today [published July 6th] set out Labour’s plans for education and he had plenty to say about the recruitment and retention crisis facing our schools. But pandering to Unions with bonus payments will only get him so far – a brave leader would acknowledge that one of the biggest factors driving teachers away from the profession is poor pupil behaviour.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the headteachers’ union ASCL has said that behaviour is ‘unrecognisable’ since the pandemic, and disruptive students are one of the most frequently quoted reasons for teachers quitting the profession early, along with weak and ineffective leadership which fails to tackle (or to even admit) bad behaviour. And the facts speak for themselves; themselves: last academic year, over 9% of the profession quit, of which only about one tenth retired whilst, on the day of writing, there are 713 vacancies for secondary maths teachers, 692 for science and 688 for English. It should be obvious that if pupils do not behave, they will not learn; if teachers cannot do their job, they will leave the profession.

The piece is quite short and worth reading, although what we already know of Starmer suggests he will never take on anything so politically difficult. He lacks the political courage, his party lacks the moral courage and the establishment doesn't care.

Sleazy and depressing

BBC presenter scandal is sleazy and depressing - but at the heart of this a family is suffering

To the public, there is a sense once again that the big broadcasters find it easier to turn a blind eye to what their stars have allegedly been up to rather than do what is right...

While many on social media are dining out on the salacious gossip of it all, it's worth noting why, once again, this merits talking about.

Yes, "dining out on the salacious gossip" is certainly one way of putting it. It is also worth noting that many online comments suggest a very strong whiff of schadenfreude pervades the digital air. The BBC and its highly paid presenters are sufficiently unpopular for this to be an entirely predictable reaction.

It is, to state the obvious, all rather sleazy. All rather depressing. But as the public pays for the BBC and the fat salaries within it, we do need to talk about this.

Yes again, in spite of the inevitable schadenfreude it certainly is rather sleazy and rather depressing. Not only because of BBC failings, but because it belongs in a patrician past, because is well past its sell-by date.

Wulf in the Woods

A remarkable WWII story from Mark Felton, a Focke-Wulf 190 found in a Russian forest many years after it crash-landed.

Saturday 8 July 2023

Biden's Ministry of Truth

Ben Terangi has a very interesting Mercator piece on the Missouri v. Biden case.

A palpable blow to Biden's Ministry of Truth

The United States Constitution is something of a miracle. But unless we defend it, it’s just a piece of paper.

These are the words of Dr Aaron Kheriaty, a plaintiff in Missouri v. Biden, a federal free speech case that has reverberated globally.

In short, a swathe of federal agencies, in collusion with the Biden White House, spent years pressuring social media platforms to deprive Americans of their right to speak freely — on topics ranging from the Hunter Biden laptop scandal to the origins of COVID-19 to the integrity of the 2020 election.

The states of Missouri and Louisiana, led by Missouri’s former attorney general and current US Senator Eric Schmitt, took the US government to court and have secured a historic — if temporary — victory against the forces of censorship.

The presiding judge, Terry A. Doughty, conspicuously used July 4th — the United States’ national holiday and a day when federal rulings are seldom issued — to send a message about freedom the Biden administration cannot ignore:

“If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history.”

Though more developments are expected in this case, not least because the defendants have already filed an intent to appeal, the result thus far is promising: Doughty has issued a preliminary injunction preventing the US government from ordering Big Tech to police speech on their platforms.

The whole piece is well worth reading, as is the 155 page ruling, although I'll admit to skimming some of the legal arguments in the latter part of this document. For anyone paying attention this isn't news, but what comes across hot and strong in the ruling is how huge, complex and far-reaching the White House censorship regime has been in recent years. 

What also comes across very strongly indeed is how reliable information has become such a coercive, top-down concept within the White House and US government agencies.  

Judge Doughty’s 155-page ruling is a thing of beauty — at least in the eyes of any still interested in the US Constitution’s First Amendment. Consider just one red-hot excerpt, which has independent outlets buzzing worldwide:

“Although this case is still relatively young, and at this stage the Court is only examining it in terms of the Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth'.

The Plaintiffs have presented substantial evidence in support of their claims that they were the victims of a far-reaching and widespread censorship campaign. This court finds that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment free speech claim against the Defendants.”

In summarising the case, Judge Doughty listed a dizzying array of failings and alleged scandals the Biden regime did not want Americans questioning: Big Tech’s suppression of Hunter Biden’s laptop contents on the eve of the 2020 election; the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin; the inefficiency of masks, lockdowns and COVID-19 vaccines; election security issues including voting by mail; and the Biden economy.

An alternative headline

Biden to ‘compare notes’ with Sunak on Ukrainian fightback

An alternative headline could be

Biden to ‘compare Autocues’ with Sunak on Ukrainian fightback

Now we have powerful AI systems available, surely it would be more efficient for their Autocues to 'compare notes'. Apart from which, nobody will ever be allowed to see Joe's personal notes.

Friday 7 July 2023

What rotten luck that would be

Sweden charges Greta Thunberg for blockading oil port

Climate activist Greta Thunberg will appear in court in July charged with "disobeying the police" during a protest, Swedish prosecutors have said.

Ms Thunberg, 20, joined a group of young protesters blockading oil tankers at a port in Malmö in June. Police said she refused to leave when asked to.

She could face a six-month prison sentence or a fine.

If she goes to jail she could even miss the end of the world because it seems to be well overdue. What rotten luck that would be.

The Rising Star

Labour frontbencher apologises for misspeaking in furious Question Time row over NHS claim

Labour rising star Bridget Philipson was stunned on the BBC's Question Time tonight when she had to admit to "misspeaking" on the NHS during the show.

The shadow education minister was made to look foolish by Tory veterans minister Johnny Mercer as the show broadcast from Fleetwood in Lancashire.

A professional politician with no useful outside experience but a "rising star" of the major political party which once had Jeremy Corbyn as leader. 

It's a clown show - but it isn't funny.

Thursday 6 July 2023

No military utility

North Korea's failed spy satellite was unable to trace targets, South Korea says

Key parts of the satellite were salvaged in a 36-day operation. South Korean military experts say it is the first time South Korea has secured a satellite launched by the North.

In a statement, it said: "After detailed analysis on major parts of North Korea's space launch vehicle and satellite which were salvaged, South Korean and US experts have assessed that they had no military utility as a reconnaissance satellite at all".

If the North Korean leadership knew the satellite had no military utility then perhaps it was a propaganda stunt of some kind. Or maybe it was part propaganda and part trial run.

A more interesting possibility is that the North Korean leadership did not fully understand the satellite's serious military limitations and were not fully aware of the risk that those limitations could be exposed by a failed launch.

In which case, it highlights the weakness of any leadership with limited outside experience and information sources. To a significant degree, those at the top only know what they are told by trusted advisers. If they make impossible demands they may be told impossible tales.

In Sir Keir's world

Green protesters interrupt Starmer's big education speech with demand for 'no more U-turns'

The Labour leader tried to laugh off the stunt and pointed to his commitments on tackling climate change. He was in Kent to outline his pledges for government when two people unfurled a banner and demanded action on green issues...

Sir Keir was midway through an address when a man and a woman from campaign group Green New Deal Rising unfurled a banner, saying: "No more U-turns - green new deal now."

In Sir Keir's world, there is no ideology to link education with rational analysis.  

I ask myself accordingly whether the condition of the world in the coming years will be favourable to refined and paradoxical science. The extension of education will have enabled the uneducated to pronounce upon everything.
George Santayana - Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy (1933)

Wednesday 5 July 2023

A national act of self-harm

Joe Baron has a TCW piece on Net Zero, attributing it to what he calls the 'loony left.'

Net Zero – a national act of self-harm sponsored by the loony left

THE planned re-imposition of the green levy on our energy bills, set to cost households £170 a year, reminds us of Net Zero’s insatiable appetite for devouring the hard-earned money of struggling families. If you are unlucky enough to live in one of the 32 London boroughs (as I am) and own a diesel vehicle (as I do) you’ll not only have to buy a new ULEZ-compliant car, but you’ll also have to pay the reintroduced green tax – and let’s not forget your already soaring energy bills, living costs and mortgage payments.

For what? To save the world from anthropogenic global warming? Pull the other one. Britain accounts for only 1 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. China (33 per cent) isn’t going to follow our example. Nor is India. They want to develop and become richer. They’ve got billions to feed, after all.

The piece is worth reading as a reminder that it isn't only the loony left pushing Net Zero here in the UK, but to a very good approximation it is Parliament as a whole. If anything, it highlights the problem of distinguishing political left and right.

Instead of battling with that issue, suppose we whizz off at a tangent, because one possibility emerging from the Net Zero lunacy is that there are people who must have enormous opinions rather than small, everyday ones.

That would be 'enormous' in the sense of heavily portentous opinions. Opinions which others ought to take note of but possibly don't, perhaps because they can't quite bear the moral weight of them while still managing to function socially.

There certainly are people who appear to need portentous opinions. Some of them even have to demonstrate the vastness of their views by sitting in the road or by interrupting sporting events in as public a manner as possible. As if they need urgently momentous opinions to lend weight to an otherwise feeble personality.

We aren't rational enough to deal with it

British GP: Lewis Hamilton would 'welcome' protesters but not on F1 track, Silverstone issue 'danger' warning

Twelve months ago, environmental activists walked onto the race track during the opening lap at Silverstone. The Grand Prix was simultaneously red flagged as Zhou Guanyu had a big crash at Turn One.

This year, Just Stop Oil have made protests at high-profile sporting events including the second men's Ashes Test at Lord's, the Premiership rugby final and the World Snooker Championship.

Nobody wants to see another Emily Davison tragedy, but confidence in the common sense of activists doesn't rule it out. Apart from anything else, we aren't rational enough to deal with the aftermath.

Tuesday 4 July 2023

The library is the clue

The highest office! White House guessing game begins after cocaine found in library forced Hazmat evacuation - two days after recovering drug fiend Hunter Biden was on the property

If it was found in the library then that obviously rules out Joe and Hunter. I imagine they will eventually find it belonged to Trump because he reads stuff and that's suspicious.