Taken from a comment by someone called Stuck-Record at Tim Worstall’s blog. Tim was describing how he left a comment on an article by the actor, Bill Nighy, in defence of a “Robin Hood Tax”; Tim’s comment – which he said was entirely civil - was deleted. The Comment is Free site of the Guardian clearly cannot take dissent from some pro-marketeers. (I expect Tim drives them mad with his dissection of their views on a daily basis.)
The red lights on the mental dashboard go on in my head when the words Robin Hood come out. The false assumption of the tax proponents is that you can tax an activity – such as bank trading – without the impact in any way being felt by us ordinary folk. More cynically, politicians might like the idea because the actual cost impact will not be easy to see (wider bid/offer spreads for exchanging money, lower returns to investors, cuts to service and jobs in banks, etc.)
Of course, not all actors and music folk have collectivist, interventionist views on things like economics, or other things. The US actor Rob Lowe seems pretty intelligent, ditto Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine, etc. I don’t have a problem as such with actors/others talking about such things – we should not fall into the ad hominem fallacy of saying that non-specialists on subject A cannot talk about it (democracy is based on such a position, is it not?). However, actors, singers or whatever who want to get into the arena cannot expect to be treated any more gently than an economist or other specialist in an area of controversy. Being a luvvie doesn’t get you special favours.
One commenter managed to get past the CiF “checkpoint Charlie” to leave what I thought was a pretty good point:
“…you’d have to have a heart as cold and unmovable as Commonwealth Bay ice not to be howling with laughter at the exquisite symbolic perfection of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ‘stuck in our own experiment’, as they put it. I confess I was hoping it might all drag on a bit longer and the cultists of the ecopalypse would find themselves drawing straws as to which of their number would be first on the roasting spit. On Douglas Mawson’s original voyage, he and his surviving comrade wound up having to eat their dogs. I’m not sure there were any on this expedition, so they’d probably have to make do with the Guardian reporters. Forced to wait a year to be rescued, Sir Douglas later recalled, ‘Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips.’ Now there’s a man who’s serious about reducing his footprint.”
Big Climate is slowly being crushed by a hard, icy reality: if you’re heading off to university this year, there has been no global warming since before you were in kindergarten. That’s to say, the story of the early 21st century is that the climate declined to follow the climate ‘models’. (Full disclosure: I’m currently being sued by Dr Michael Mann, creator of the most famously alarming graph, the ‘hockey stick’.) You would think that might occasion a little circumspection. But instead the cultists up the ante: having evolved from ‘global warming’ to the more flexible ‘climate change’, they’re now moving on to ‘climate collapse’. Total collapse. No climate at all. No sun, no ice. No warm fronts, except for the heaving bosoms in Rajendra Pachauri’s bodice-rippers. Nothing except the graphs and charts of ‘settled science’. In the Antarctic wastes of your mind, it’s easier just to ice yourself in.
Mark Steyn, who, I am glad to see, is back at the Spectator. The whole article is glorious. I must admit when I first read about this group of folk who, no doubt hoping to confirm their AGW warnings, got trapped in the Antarctic ice in that region’s “summer”, I thought of the expression “Ship of Fools”. It has been used quite a lot. Talking of that title, there’s a great article under that title about a trip by Leftists to the Soviet Union by the great P J O’Rourke. Reprinted in his book, Republican Party Reptile.
We all love those daft things that school children put on exam papers – How long is the menstrual cycle? Three feet; that sort of thing. So, here are some from a hundred years ago (when they didn’t have such things as menstrual cycles):
Some of the others might turn out to be even funnier if I understood them.
Thus laments commenter James Primavesi to this Times story (paywalled, but the title tells you all you need to know):
With apologies to all those who will be les misérables tomorrow, I give you… One Day More
ABBOTT to ELECTORATE:
ABBOTT OR WOULD THIS WORK BETTER AS RUDD and ELECTORATE:
ABBOTT CORRECTION RUDD YES STICKING WITH RUDD HERE and ELECTORATE:
ABBOTT and ELECTORATE:
ABBOTT and ELECTORATE:
A FLOATING VOTER:
ABBOTT NO WAIT A MINUTE HE OUGHT TO BE LEADING THE REVOLUTION OH NEVER MIND I JUST CAN’T SEE RUDD AS JAVERT:
KATTER, PALMER and OTHER BENEFICIARIES OF SECOND PREFERENCE VOTES IN THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM:
SOMEONE FROM A MINOR PARTY I’M HAVING TROUBLE FITTING INTO THIS ANALOGY:
I’M LOSING TRACK OF THIS:
THIS WOULD WORK BETTER AS RUDD AND THE ELECTORATE I THINK:
KATTER, PALMER, OTHERS ENDING WITH ER:
ABBOTT (I LOVE THIS BIT, GO JAVERT!):
RUDD and ABBOTT:
UPDATE: I should have guessed I would not be the only one to think of it: Old Owl and 2dogs both pointed out in comments that “Bill Glasson, who is standing against Rudd in his seat of Griffith, has used this song in a video thanking his campaign volunteers.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Got it! I have finally settled on which character from Les Mis best represents Kevin Rudd. Gavroche. We are meant to find him loveable but he is an irritating little brat. He endlessly plays up his proletarian origins and faffs on about “what little people can do”. He denounces Inspector Javert and gets him sent off to be murdered by a People’s Court, setting the example for Children of the Revolution ever since. Then on the barricades, when the revolutionaries are offered the chance to leave, what does he do? He hams it up, sings his little song in a halting, childish treble, and basically dooms the lot of them. Go to the top of the class, little Gavroche! Or preferably go prancing out onto the top of the barricade – go on kid, you know you can’t resist an opportunity to show off – and get yourself slaughtered. Oh, you just did. Good show!
All suspicions which have been raised have been dispelled
- German interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, referring to reassurances that British and US intelligence agencies “had observed German laws in Germany”.
It is compulsory to recite this quote in the voice of Cecil Baldwin from Welcome to Night Vale.
Aiden Gregg already did an earlier version of this same presentation, at my home on May 31st. The second half of his talk that night was him reading out this essay, which concerns a country called Equistan. Attenders tomorrow night are asked to acquaint themselves with this interesting and thoughtful text.
Equistan is afflicted by extreme sexual inequality between different men, caused by there being many more men in Equistan than women. Luckily for Equistan, however, it has a government which addresses this issue by imposing sexual justice, of a sort that redistributes some of the sexual favours bestowed by women upon appealing men to less appealing men. Most Equistanians understand that these arrangements are both fair and necessary. A few sexual libertarians (such as the so-called “Liberty Belles”) grumble about them, but such malcontents are an extremist fringe, whose arguments are briefly described and refuted.
The talk at my place was not recorded, but this one at the Rose and Crown, assuming nothing goes wrong, will be. Highly recommended.
LATER: Libertarian Home has more.
As a liberty-loving individualist, it is easy to become pessimistic in the face of the ever growing authority of The State. Perhaps you were delighted to be a part of replacing your centre-left governing party with your centre-right opposition party, but your lesser of two evils still turned out to be pretty damn evil. Or perhaps you were one of those libertarians who embarrassed themselves way back in 2007 by getting all excited over that compelling Democratic candidate whose background screamed **extreme belief in government action across society** to the point that his beltway CV was visible from space, yet was Hopefully going to usher in a libertarian-flavoured Change somehow. Or perhaps you’re just one of those goodly folk drinking in the glorious sight of the irrepressible green shoots of free association, free enterprise and free will that sprout up in spontaneous order everywhere, whilst simultaneously despairing of their vulnerability to the everpresent Big Farmer (how to work a Big Pharma pun in here?) who really loves to harvest. Is his scythe getting sharper? That’s not a soithe, this is a soithe.
Even when faced with the depressing reality of the modern welfare state, you can still find hope in minor but heartwarming tales of individual defiance and bureaucratic incompetence. Consider an article with a very boring title published by Popular Mechanics. If I were the PM subeditor, I think I would have gone with a food metaphor; Several Small Delicious Canapes Of Little Nutritional Consequence Which Nevertheless Make For Highly Enjoyable Eating Plus A Few Which Give You The Trots. Much snappier than 10 Crazy Red-Light Camera Cases, right?
Not feeling it? Well, me neither. I’m not a fan of pieces with excessively long titles. Still, there’s plenty of grist for the anti-authoritarian mill here, anyway. O, the palpable, glorious schadenfreude felt reading about how the city of San Bernadino tried to wring extra red light camera tickets out of motorists by illegally shortening the yellow/amber/orange light (this is an international blog, after all) duration by a second and got busted. The blood-red light revenue infusion henceforth became a revenue haemorrhage, particularly when the company the city had hired to run the haemorrhage insisted on sticking to the terms of their contract. Most unsporting. This contributed to the city’s bankruptcy. What a shame. All right, you may feel pity for the unfortunate residents of San Bernadino – well, perhaps only for those who didn’t vote for a Democrat to create new problems as well as expand existing problems created by a previous Democrat. (Regarding the majority of those who didn’t vote for a Democrat, what was I saying about the lesser of two evils above? Drat.)
Ah, San Bernadino, sitting pretty in the California sun. No rustbelt industrial decay there. Things aren’t so bad. Its bankruptcy was not the biggest municipal default in American history. Detroit’s was bigger. It’s not the poorest city of significant size in the USA. Detroit is poorer. That must be of some comfort.
However, the tale of San Bernadino’s red light blues isn’t my favourite vignette from the article. It is the following:
This has got it all! A city authority falling afoul of their nasty little arrangement with one of those horrible private sector firms which exist solely to assist government authorities big and small to meddle in the lives of their subjects more effectively. A plucky individual fighting City Hall by asserting his natural born rights – and winning. A judge telling the state where it can stick its not-just-ridiculous-but-also-unconstitutional bureaucratic imposts. USA! USA! USA! There’s hope for us all yet!
Incidentally, I found this jolly article on the venerable Instapundit. Trouble is that the venerable Instapundit is liable to follow such an article up with a link to some story about how the NSA’s been collecting your e-mails, toenail clippings and belly-button lint, or perhaps an update on the IRS’s campaigning efforts during the recent Presidential campaign, or maybe even the media’s primary role in exorbitantly publicising and racialising the Zimmerman trial…and you, as an Australian small government-type, you start to feel a bit depressed again. Come on, America! We’re relying on you to somehow tow us out of this illiberal bog our ruling class has quite contentedly driven us into! It is really quite depressing to see that you are stuck in the same mud (if not quite down to your wheel arches like us)!
But after that flush of exasperation has passed, your thoughts may drift back to sunny California and San Bernadino, and you realise…well, at least we’re not Detroit. There will always be Detroit.
I regularly read David Thompson’s blog, and like many of his postings, this recent one pokes fun at a Guardian article, this time a piece by Mike Power, complaining about the alleged sexism of barbecues. The outdoor cooking of meat is bad, because men think that this is men’s stuff!
Thompson copies and pastes Power asking the following:
My immediate reaction to reading this quote at Thompson’s was that Mike Power was confusing a comedy routine with a seriously held idea.
I recall enjoying a TV show that happened on ITV4 TV a couple of years back, called Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club. Series 1 was particularly good, I thought. Series 2 got a bit above itself and happened in a bigger studio and with a bigger budget, and the guests became less quirky and amusing, and I didn’t enjoy it so much, but it was still great fun. The basic agenda was a bunch of blokes sitting around discussing their man-ness, with a mixture of genuine pleasure at often decidedly daft male rituals but also a healthy dose of self-mockery.
I recently caught a repeat of one of these shows, in which comedian Rufus Hound described how a typical male stunt, namely doing something that looked dangerous but wasn’t actually that dangerous, had become truly dangerous. It involved him putting a small puddle of something flammable in his hand and setting fire to it. His story of how this had all gone very wrong, on account of him making the puddle too big and then the setting of it on fire being delayed until the fluid had seeped between his fingers, won Hound the round where they were taking it in turns to recount their worst injuries. That his injury was self-inflicted while pursuing manly fun was central to why Hound was victorious. Doing it to yourself trumps anything that merely happens to you. How manly is that? In both a good way, and a ridiculous way.
The Beer and Pizza Club regularly featured shots of women in the audience, creasing up with laughter at the various masculinities that were being thus both enjoyed and mocked. Ah, men.
And, getting to back to the original point of this posting, I recall another Rufus Hound fire-based comedy moment on the B&P Club, when they were each describing their idea of a perfect day. Hound’s perfect day involved him cooking meat out on his patio and inviting the neighbours round. He said something like: “Nothing says manliness like cooking meat, out of doors, over a naked flame.” Much audience laughter, from both men and women. And from me. “Bacon” being a good name for the man genially presiding over this meaty mirth.
This is the kind of thing Power was on about. But what he misses, probably on purpose because he’s such a puritan, is that … it’s a joke! No, says Power. It’s not funny, I tell you! Stop enjoying yourselves!
And guess what, David Thompson agrees with me, although really he said it first and I am agreeing with him.
He quotes Power again:
And he responds thus:
Gendered fun. Spot on. Can’t have that.
I particular like Thompson’s invention of:
Not that men oppressing women is always and everywhere such a joke. That other favourite blogger of mine, Mick Hartley, recently did a posting about how a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by her male relatives for the crime of possessing a mobile phone. What does Mike Power make of that, I wonder? My guess (please prove this wrong if you can) is … nothing, on account of him being (I further guess) an anti-anti-Islamist. It’s not that stoning women to death for having mobile phones is right, you understand. Merely that complaining about it is wrong.
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