Ever since the universe obliged me by inventing digital photography, I have been taking a lot of photos (only click on that if you really want to see some of my photos and are willing to wait). One of the sorts of photos that I like to take a lot of is photos of other people taking photos. I particularly like it when they are holding something in front of their face, like a camera or a coat or a bag, so that I can then stick my photo of them photoing up on the internet without them being very recognisable, by which I mean face-recognition-software-recognisable.
And earlier this month, I took this photo, of a lady on Westminster Bridge, taking a photo of another lady. Well, that’s what I at first thought, but later I realised that she was almost certainly videoing the other lady. That’s because in addition to holding up her iPhone (over most of her face) she was also holding up a hand-made teleprompter, covered in text:
I did a few months of schoolboy Russian about half a century ago, so I am pretty sure that this is Russian. But what does it say?
Here it is closer-up and more easily readable, with the blueness removed:
So, is this harmless tourist guidance? Viciously mendacious Putinite propaganda, full of nonsensical lies about the Ukraine? Some kind of personal message? I have enjoyed wondering, but now I would really like to know.
I am sure that at least one of our most knowledgeable and obliging commentariat can knowledgeably oblige with the answer.
I am reading the latest piece at Libertarian Home by Nico Metten, a man whose thoughts and thought processes I am coming greatly to admire. I am only a tiny bit into this piece so far, but already I have read this very lucid observation, which I think is worth passing on:
A prominent libertarian advocate of consequentialism is David Friedman. Consequentialists argue that it is useless to deal with philosophy or morals, as these are very unclear and subjective. What matters are the outcomes of certain policies. As long as the outcomes are ok, the rest does not matter so much. People like David Friedman simply don’t seem to want to deal with philosophy and morals. They are uncomfortable with it. Because of that, they only deal with what they consider more objective, which in this case is economics.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with people getting into libertarianism through economics. Economics seems to play a major role in exposing the state and it can make a lot of converts. I myself have learned a lot from economists when it comes to questioning the state. Labelling this approach as consequentialist however suggests that this follows a distinct philosophy. And here I am not so sure.
To me it seems impossible to be a pure consequentialist. I would agree that results matter. However, how do we know which results are good results? It seems in order to evaluate results, one first will need an evaluation tool. This evaluation tool logically needs to come before the actual consequences and is therefore not consequentialist itself. If this is true, then consequentialism as a stand alone philosophy seems logically impossible. But how come intelligent people like David Friedman can think that they are consequentialists? Friedman clearly must have an evaluation tool. I think the reason for this is that his evaluation tool is completely tacit. It is there, but Friedman is not consciously aware of it.
Good point. I have certainly been vaguely aware of this point, rather as Metten says that Friedman must have been. But I have never read it spelt out quite so clearly and so explicitly. Or, if I have, I wasn’t paying attention.
I am now reading the whole thing.
Claire Lehmann describes some of the work of contrarian social psychologist Lee Jussim:
It appears that descriptive stereotypes are a crutch to lean on when we have no other information about a person. When we gain additional insights into people, these stereotypes are no longer useful. And there is now a body of evidence to suggest that stereotypes are not as fixed, unchangeable and inflexible as they’ve historically been portrayed to be.
So, it would appear that “we” make use of stereotypes exactly as I make use of stereotypes (or as I try to), as crude first approximations, rather than as the last word. Bigotry, it has always seemed to me, means not having no prejudices, but rather having prejudices which you are unwilling to alter, when faced with circumstances which do not fit your prejudices. And it seems that “we” think like that also.
Good to know. My thanks to Bishop Hill for telling me about this piece.
Having written all of the above (apart from the thanks to Bishop Hill), I see that the previous posting here is also about stereotyping.
If you are an anti-Corbynite Labourite, things are looking pretty grim just now:
By his disastrous widening of the franchise for electing the party leader, Ed Miliband has handed control of it to what a previous leader, Hugh Gaitskell, memorably denounced as “pacifists, unilateralists and fellow travellers” – people not only antipathetic to ordinary voters but anathema even to most ordinary Labour MPs. It will be hard, it may even be impossible, to get the institution back. …
Quite so, except that the people to whom the Labour Party has just been handed are not pacifists. They favour violence provided that it is inflicted upon Britain and upon civilisation by Britain’s and by civilisation’s enemies.
This is Robert Harris, in today’s Sunday Times, and dragged out from behind its paywall here.
Such chaos cannot go on much longer.. Those MPs who either defy a three-line whip to vote for military action against Isis, or who are permitted to follow their consciences in a free vote, may well prove to be the nucleus of a new party.
If that sounds apocalyptic then so is the mood of many Labour MPs: obliged to watch at close quarters day in, day out, the incompetent antics of a leadership that has no hope of ever winning a general election but which is nonetheless impossible to dislodge.
But if you are a Corbynite Labourite, things are looking pretty good:
Formed as a successor to the Corbyn campaign, Momentum is in the process of setting up governance arrangements to represent its supporters amongst the Labour Party membership as well as the wider social movement which is springing up. As it grows, Momentum will develop democratic governance structures at every level of the network.
That being from the Momentum website. However, I prefer this piece of Momentum propaganda, which I spotted recently in the tube:
Who knew that political feuding could be so glamorous?
Here is another Labour Party related picture which I took, when walking beside a disconnected and unnavigable canal (a certain creek springs to mind) in north London earlier this year. Did the person who threw this sign into the water know something that the rest of us did not, about the future of the Labour Party?
To be more serious, I am content to see the Labour Party reduced to a state of ruin.
→ Continue reading: Snapshots of Labour collapse
Far leftists do not laugh to mock communism. They laugh to forget communism. They dismiss the mass murders, and the suppression of every right that makes life worth living with a giggle and a snort, and imply that you are a bit of a prude if you cannot do the same.
Then they throw a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book across the chamber of the House of Commons and look round with utter bemusement when no one gets the gag.
– Nick Cohen
With thanks to Mick Hartley.
I hugely enjoyed this bravura exercise in self-promotion by Milo Yiannopoulos.
Sure, I work harder than everyone else, sleep less than everyone else (four hours, on average), I’m funnier, more charming, smarter, better looking and more modest than everyone else. But that’s not the whole story.
My technique isn’t some great contact book, or a crack team of cyber commandos, or some big secret social engineering secret. Nor is it even the fact that I’ve made myself social justice-proof by letting my flamboyant personality loose in public and never shutting up about black boyfriends. (They can’t get me on racism, homophobia or misogyny, so half the time they don’t even bother showing up to debate me.)
My secret is just this: I don’t exclude people. …
And much else in a similar vein. Or maybe that should be vain.
As I say, I greatly enjoyed this fireword display. More than any other recent piece of writing, this one reminded me of the most persuasively entertaining stuff that the hippy-lefties were saying and doing in the 1960s, in an earlier age of alternative media. Like Yiannopoulos, they only grew stronger with all the outraged attacks on them by third-rate establishmentarian bores. The hippy-lefties won. Yiannopoulos, as he says, is also now winning. Given that he calls himself a cultural libertarian, that’s all part of what I like about him.
But what do others think? I doubt everyone here likes this man’s way with words as much as I do. Maybe I like him because I have only recently started noticing him, and maybe after a while I’ll get bored of him. Perhaps so, but as of now, I want to know more. And you learn a lot about something, or someone, by watching people argue about it, or him. All comments – pro-, anti- or anything else- – will be gratefully read, by me at least.
In a posting sarcastically entitled Great questions of our time, the usually excellent Mick Hartley pours scorn on a book with the question in my title above as its subtitle, without (I’m guessing) him (Mick Hartley) having read any of this book.
I tried to attach the following comment to Hartley’s posting but could not make it work, so here it is, here:
I think this actually is a great question. Given what a totally vile doctrine Islam is, and given how many people say that they follow it, why indeed do so few Muslims, percentage wise, actually do the kinds of murderous things demanded of them in Islam’s holy scriptures?
The more vile you consider the things that Islam demands of its devotees, and they seem to me to be very vile indeed, the better the question is.
I am a regular and grateful reader of your blog. …
… by which I mean Mick Hartley‘s blog.
… I rarely disagree with you (and I greatly enjoy your photos (taken by you and by others)), but I think I do disagree with you on this.
Whether the above-linked-to book actually does supply good answers to this question, I do not know. But it surely is a question well worth asking.
Similarly good questions are: Why are there now so few wars raging these days, compared to how many wars that might now be raging? (Part of the answer to that would help to explain, in particular, all those verbally manic yet strangely well-behaved Muslims.) Why so few car crashes, train crashes, air crashes? And yes, I am well aware that there are a also a great many car crashes, but why not far more, given how many cars there are wizzing about hither and thither? Which are more numerous, I wonder, cars or Muslims? Muslims, I should guess, but it is not a confident guess. (Recent answer for the number of cars in the world.)
See also: Why is gun control not necessary, to prevent armed civilians killing each other in large numbers when mere arguments get heated? Because it seems not to be. Armed civilians actually almost never kill each other for bad, domestic or bar-room type disagreement reasons. They mostly (overwhelmingly so) defend themselves with guns against criminals, for very good reasons. The benefits of civilian gun ownership, in those states of the USA where civilian gun ownership is allowed seem to outweigh the harm that you might think that legalising gun ownership might unleash. Why? Was that predictable? To many, not. Minds are changed with questions and answers of this sort. (I can remember, a long time ago now, my own mind being thus changed.) Gun legalisation is now spreading in the USA.
That latter question, about gun control, has become very pertinent to the matter of how to see off the relatively few Muslims who do decide to become terrorists. Armed police in the numbers we have now can’t be everywhere, and shouldn’t be. Also, it is devilishly difficult to predict exactly which verbally fanatical Muslims are actually going to do something appropriately murderous about it. Muslim nutters make up a dauntingly large group to keep tabs on all the time, and in any case do we want to live in a world where the authorities have all the powers they would like to keep such tabs?
In Europe, the gun control argument doesn’t look like happening for real any time soon. But it is now happening for real in connection with the capital city of the USA, which terrorists are apparently saying is now high on their hit list. Are we soon due a Rand Paul “I told you so” moment?
When Corbyn is challenged on his beliefs and his record, he tends to respond by characterising a political challenge as a personal attack. He treats it as intrusive, rude and vulgar. In so doing, he accomplishes three things. He paints himself as the innocent victim of unjust aggression; he avoids responding to the detail of the challenge; and he bolsters the distinction between the good people inside his tent and the bad people outside of it. Howard Jacobson writes:
There was something ‘How very dare you’, about Jeremy Corbyn’s recent temper tantrum in rebuttal of the charge that the company he kept reflected badly on him. ‘The idea that I’m some kind of racist or anti-Semitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive,’ he said (Jacobson 2015).
‘Alarm bells ring when a politician stands haughty upon his honour,’ observes Jacobson. When Jeremy says he doesn’t do personal what he means is that he will not deal with criticism in the normal way. He will not respond to it by means of reason or argument; he refuses to enter into serious engagement over worldviews, over ideas or over his record. He is less interested in trying to persuade than in making criticism appear as personal insult. ‘Jeremy doesn’t do personal’ does not mean that he refrains from insulting others; it means that he refrains from responding to that which he is able to construct as insulting.
– David Hirsh
My thanks to the invaluable Mick Hartley for flagging up Hirsh’s paper, entitled “The Corbyn left: the politics of position and the politics of reason”.
Dan Hannan, in a piece about how Indians would like Britain out of the EU so that Indians can more easily do business with Britain, ruminates upon the irrelevance of mere geography in the modern world:
Two generations ago, when most business was localised and freight costs were high, regional customs unions had a certain appeal. But in the Internet age, geographical proximity has never mattered less. Culture and kinship trump distance.
Likewise, in many eyes, lack of cultural affinity and lack of kinship trump geographical proximity, or they should. The biggest reason why Brexit seems now to be winning in Britain is that we are now watching EUrope make a hopeless mess of mass immigration from its geographically near but culturally very distinct eastern neighbours.
Near the end of the same piece Hannan says:
Next year, Britain will have to decide whether we are defined chiefly by our geography. Must we merge with states which happen to be in the vicinity, or do we recognise that some values transcend continents, linking us to kindred peoples in more distant lands?
I was having similar thoughts here, a while back, when the internet was just getting into its stride as a mass experience.
I see that I also had some rather prophetic things to say in that piece (posted in 2002) about the recently concluded Rugby World Cup (2015). The point being that rugby is an activity that was then and still remains at the mercy of geographical proximity. Rugby tournaments that happen every year, all the time, need to be based in the same approximate locality. Northern Hemisphere rugby teams were in 2002, and remain in 2015, physically separated from their superior Southern Hemisphere rivals. England had a little moment of superiority in the noughts, just winning the 2003 World Cup and coming second in 2007. So when England recently got knocked out at the group stage of the latest Rugby World Cup in 2015, in England, it felt like a uniquely terrible failure. But come the semi-finals this time around, no Northern Hemisphere teams remained in the tournament, despite the event itself having been held in the Northern Hemisphere. In the quarter finals, New Zealand slaughtered France, and Argentina decisively defeated Ireland, France and Ireland having been regarded by many as the best Northern Hemisphere bets. Many had realised that Argentina, who now regularly play against the Southern Hemisphere big three (NZ, Australia, South Africa) have recently got a lot better, but many others, me included, were amazed, not just by the fact of Argentina’s victory over Ireland but by the manner of it. Wales and Scotland did better but still lost, to South Africa and Australia.
However, the fact that regular rugby tournaments are obliged to cluster geographically is no reason for political entities to attempt to do the same. Geographical proximity to weaker teams and separation from the strongest teams is seen by Northern Hemisphere rugby people as a problem, not as any sort of answer to their problems.
With Dan Hannan, I say: Brexit. And it has to be a good sign that this anti-Brexit guy, in an article with very high google visibility, is making excuses about why his team may be about to lose rather than even attempting to make persuasive arguments about why it should win.
I and my libertarian friends all love Uber. By that I don’t just mean that we love using Uber, the service, although I am sure that just like many others, we do. I mean that we love talking about Uber, as a libertarian issue, as an issue that nicely illustrates what libertarianism is all about and the sorts of things that libertarians believe in. In particular, we believe in: technological innovation and the freedom to do it, for the benefit of all, except those in the immediate vicinity of it and overtaken by it, because they make a living from the technology that is being overtaken.
Example. A couple of weeks ago I attended a talk about Art, which suggested that Art is not abundant enough and not benefiting enough people. A big part of the response from the floor during the Q&A afterwards was: It depends what you mean by Art. By most reasonable definitions, there has never been more Art. Prominent London libertarian Professor Tim Evans compared the attitude of the speaker to that of a London Black Cab driver fretting about how to keep London Black Cabs going, what with so many Londoners now preferring Uber Cabs. My point is not that this was a fair comparison, although I thought it was. My point is that we libertarians love Uber so much that we insert Uber into conversations about quite other things. Uber is something that we just love to talk about. And it’s not just Tim Evans, and me, and Johnathan Pearce, and Rob Fisher and Perry de Havilland who love to write and talk about Uber. Based on the conversations I’ve been having with fellow libertarians, it’s pretty much all of us. This is an issue which unites all of us, and which divides our opponents. After all, even anti-libertarians need a taxi ride from time to time, and they prefer it to be cheap and obtainable rather than expensive and unpurchasable.
At the very moment I first typed in the above paragraph, an email arrived from the IEA, telling me about how the IEA’s boss, Mark Littlewood, has been mixing it with Black Cabbies on the radio.
As for me, I found my interest renewed in the Uber battle when I encountered this Black Cab, last August, in Victoria Street, just up the road from the Houses of Parliament:
Why was this cab of interest to me? Well, let’s take a close look at the rather intriguing politics lesson on the side of this Black Cab:
As you can see from this posting at my personal blog, way back in August when I took those photos, I had in mind to put something here way back, provoked by them. But the delay didn’t matter. This issue is not going away any time soon.
The taxi driver whose taxi sported this advert clearly thought that this was an advert about how wicked Uber is. Uber lobbies. Uber puts Prime Ministerial friends on its payroll. Bad Uber. But to me, this read more like an advert in favour of David Cameron. Cameron wants Uber to flourish in London. Does he now? I did not know this. Good for Cameron. And bad for Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, who does not.
This is also an advert for Uber itself. Uber is cheaper … because it pays no tax! Come again … Uber is cheaper, you say? Hm, interesting. I must give it a go.
The LTDA, who, as you can see from the top picture, is responsible for the above advert, thinks that Uber is systematically breaking the law. What that tells me is not that Uber is bad, but that the law, insofar as it now impinges upon Uber, is an ass.
→ Continue reading: Why we libertarians love Uber not just as a service but as an issue
For just over a year now, the younger of my two Goddaughters has been a student at the Royal College of Music, learning to be a mezzo-soprano. The two of us just shared supper in Chelsea, and while we consumed it she told me something very bizarre and rather sinister, about the chaos that was apparently inflicted, earlier this evening, upon her and her colleagues at the RCM by the latest James Bond film London premiere. This jamboree took place just across the road from the RCM, at the Royal Albert Hall, and it seems that the RCM was commanded to evacuate all its practice rooms that overlooked this premiere activity (quite a lot of which was outside the Royal Albert Hall on those big steps at the back), to stop anyone seeing it, and in particular, presumably, to stop them filming it or photographing it. These RCM practice rooms are in constant use, and alternatives are very hard to come by. Neither the students nor the teachers of the RCM were at all amused by this intrusion into their already stressful and hardworking lives.
How the hell can a mere bunch of movie people insist on barging into other people’s buildings and ordering them around like this? I thought James Bond was all about defending the liberties of British citizens, not violating them. According to GD2, the Royal College of Music did not agree to this arrangement. It was merely informed of it, by Westminster City Council. If the College did consent voluntarily to this arrangement, in exchange for a cash payment, for instance, rather than simply being forced to submit to it, they didn’t tell any of their inmates about that fact.
You can see what the people who inflicted all this upon the RCM were thinking. It was their event. They owned it. Nobody whom they did not invite or control should be allowed to film it. But, I say that if you want total control of the filming or photographing of an event, don’t hold your event in a public place, out in the open air, and then impose your control on places that merely overlook this public place. If you do bizarre things in public, you are fair photographic game, to anyone in the vicinity who chooses to snap you or video you.
GD2 is my only source for this story, and maybe she, or I in reporting what she said to me, have it wrong. I’d welcome comments about this or similar events, corrective if necessary. (I could find nothing about this event, other than about it simply happening, on the www.) But if what GD2 told me is right, and if my recollection of what she told me about it is also right, well, I am not impressed.
This circumstance reminded me of the crap inflicted on London when the Olympic Games came to town.
Party politics in Britain now is conferring retrospective significance upon a generation of – and this is putting it very mildly – bad mannered behaviour by lefties.
Here is an example:
This picture was used by London Mayor Boris Johnson to illustrate an article about what is now happening to the Labour Party. It is a cleaned-up snap of what some lefty moral projectionist did to a war memorial in May of this year, during an anti-austerity demo.
The Boris Johnson article was posted last weekend at the Daily Telegraph website, to which links from here are not encouraged. Its title is: “Labour directs its impotent fury at all but those responsible – itself”. It is about how, because they dare not now discuss their own self-inflicted failures and perplexities accurately and clearly, Labourites instead now prefer to blame others for these things.
At the time it happened, the above-illustrated piece of moral decrepitude was not hugely significant. Some people now behave like this. Why? Insert preferred causal theory. Mine might have involved the expansion of the universities and of the welfare system, and perhaps also a reflection on what spraycans have done to our world. Religious people might have murmured something about the decline of religion as a moral force in our society. Those who think that history is now taught badly in Britain’s schools might have talked about that. Most feminists, torn between denouncing what is on several levels a horrible anti-woman insult or, on the other hand, denouncing a fellow lefty moral projectionist for perpetrating it, presumably remained mute.
But that picture now interests me more than it did in May, or would have had I seen it then, just as it recently interested Boris Johnson. Maybe I did see it back in May, but now, I am doing something else. I am noticing it. I even did some googling and found an uncensored version of what had been done. You pretty much knew already what the Boris version of this piece of rudeness was concealing, but I want now to spell it out:
I found this here. This did not take me long.
→ Continue reading: Expletive undeleted