The idea that there is a fixed amount of wealth is a pessimistic fallacy held by cod economists. The idea that there is a fixed amount of stupidity is an optimistic fallacy held by cod psychologists. New forms of stupidity are being generated all the time; and this process is not the least hampered by old forms of stupidity continuing to flourish and even spring up anew in places from which naive observers had thought that particular species of stupidity had been eradicated.
The Guardian newspaper is a sort of Rare Breed Survival Trust for economic and political stupidity. It works to secure the continued existence and viability of endangered falsehoods. Heartwarmingly, its labours often meet with success and stupid ideas once considered moribund can thrive again. Not thrive in terms of achieving anything worthwhile, of course, because the ideas concerned are stupid, but in terms of being loved.
Furthermore, as Martin Kirk from the activist network the Rules pointed out, all the language of sustainable goals frames poverty as a disease: eradicable, no match for the ingenuity of mankind, but fundamentally nobody’s fault. It is a landscape where everyone’s a hero and nobody’s a villain; one in which unfair trade agreements, land grabs, structural debt relations, privatisation of publicly owned utilities and tax evasion never happened.
Poverty is not a naturally occurring germ or virus; it is anthropogenically created though wealth extraction. Any goal that fails to recognise this is not only unlikely to succeed, but can only be understood as a deliberate act of diversion, drawing attention away from what might work; in its place, the anodyne, fairytale language of hope, in a post-ideological world where all politicians just want what’s best and a billionaire is just a benefactor you haven’t met yet.
Most cringeworthy moments: her ghastly fake coughs at 2:07, 3:10, and 3:25 whenever Nick Ferrari pressed a point particularly hard. She really did have a cough, but even a real cough sounds wrong when told to perform before it is ready. Ferrari’s expression of sympathy after the 3:25 coughing fit was not meant to deceive her or the audience.
In the red corner, a four minute clip from a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview with Jeremy Corbyn by Stephen Nolan dated 8 August 2015, while Mr Corbyn was the front-runner in his ultimately successful bid to become leader of the Labour Party:
The most cringeworthy section again involves a pretence. Listening from 3 minutes until the end, Mr Corbyn’s initial claim not to have heard was credible; there was interference from another station to contend with. But as the interviewer doggedly repeated the question in an admirably clear voice, my belief in Mr Corbyn’s deafness trickled away.
Jeremy Corbyn: “Can we take the thing forwards rather than backwards?”
Stephen Nolan: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Background noise – interference from another station.]
JC: “Sorry, couldn’t hear that.”
SN: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
JC: “Hello? I think we’re going to have to do this later…”
SN: “OK, let me just – let me just ask this last question while it’s quiet there. Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Sound of indrawn breath.]
Who wins this round?
September 26th, 2015 | 8 comments - (Comments are closed)
Yeah, funny and all, but it is depressing that so many people find an allegation quoted second hand from a single un-named source to be proof positive so long as the accused is someone they dislike. The claim that there is photographic evidence sets the seal on my disbelief. If this photo exists what is stopping this little piggy going to market? Why didn’t he squeal before now? Is the possessor of this photograph waiting for someone richer than Ashcroft to offer him more money or some time better than today for it to get some media attention?
I haven’t got the photo, alas. What a pig’s ear I made of my opportunities there. Like David Cameron, I managed to trot along to Oxford in the early 80’s and yet knew nothing of the Bullingdon Club, the Piers Gaveston Society or whatever. I first heard of the former when Cameron became prime minister and of the latter yesterday. My friends wore anoraks and were into science fiction. Or even science, the weirdos.
The consequences of politically motivated credulity regarding allegations that look increasingly likely to have been porky-pies are sometimes more serious than a lot of bad puns.
The most senior prosecutor in England and Wales has added her voice to criticism of the Metropolitan police’s inquiry into claims of a murderous Westminster paedophile ring, saying detectives “overstepped the mark” when they stated that the allegations were true.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service, acknowledged the difficulties of investigating historical allegations but said: “You don’t just take somebody’s word as it is.”
On Monday Scotland Yard acknowledged that a senior detective’s description of an alleged victim’s claims as “credible and true” had “suggested we were pre-empting the outcome of the investigation”.
Pre-empting the verdict of a trial? You don’t say! Why did it take you this long to notice, Ms Saunders?
For those who don’t follow the Dolphin Square soap opera, the claims described by police as “credible and true” came from one source, nicknamed Nick, who claimed that three children were murdered by a VIP sex ring.
Operation Midland has drawn criticism since police forces leapt on unsubstantiated abuse claims against Edward Heath, and the former MP Harvey Proctor condemned as preposterous the allegations of torture and abuse put to him by officers.
Note that Heath was alleged to have been abusing and possibly offing kiddies while a serving prime minister, when his every moment was monitored by bodyguards (most of whom would have been police officers themselves), officials, flunkies and journalists. All in on it, I suppose. I think that Heath was one of the worst PMs we have ever had, but who believes this crap?
The deputy leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that’s who!
Midland is one of a number of inquiries that began after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said in the House of Commons in 2012 that there had been “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”.
September 22nd, 2015 | 18 comments - (Comments are closed)
The BBC, commendably, has taken to occasionally giving over a spare channel to its election coverage from days gone by, without modern commentary. The programme about the general election of 1955 can be seen here or here.
At 2 hours 25 minutes there is an interview with former Liberal Chief Whip Frank Byers. At 2:29 he says,
I should say that the major issue which has arisen as a result of the election, now that we know it, is the future of the Labour Party. Because quite frankly I think that if that party is gong to remain as the official opposition – and I don’t see it doing so, but if it is – it’s got to do a great deal of fresh thinking. It’s got to have, I think, a policy that does not include all this nationalisation and control, and I think they’ve got to bring a good deal of business experience into their academic economics; and until they do that I don’t see them getting back into power. In fact I hope they don’t, until they’ve got a proper policy. It may well be that this is the beginning of the Liberal Party transplanting the socialist party as the official opposition.
Byers was wrong. Nothing remotely like that came to pass in the years following 1955. But I predict that his prediction might be dusted off and sold as “mint condition vintage” in 2020.
This whole Jeremy Corbyn thing is a cosmic rebuke to the idea that chance plays no role in history. For those who do not follow British politics, what happened is this. The declining Labour party, desperate to attract more recruits, made it easy and cheap to register as a supporter. After Ed Miliband’s resignation at first all the candidates for the next leader were fairly centrist. There was a consensus among Labour MPs that they should take on board what the British electorate had told them in unexpectedly giving the Conservatives a majority in the 2015 election. Then a few MPs decided to give the perennial left wing rebel Jeremy Corbyn a chance to play too, basically out of pity. Thanks to their intervention he reached the threshold number of nominations from MPs needed in order to go on the ballot two minutes before the deadline. Big mistake. First some mischievous Tories decided to register as Labour in order to screw the Labour party around by voting for Corbyn the electoral no-hoper. Then the far-left entryists awoke from their thirty-year slumber and saw that this was a chance for them, too. Social media spread the idea among left wing students and beaten-down old socialists suddenly aflame with new hope. The role of social media, perhaps, could have been predicted – but nobody did predict it. Thousands then hundreds of thousands paid their £3 and registered to vote. It now looks almost certain that Corbachov will be the next Labour leader. Next prime minister, not so likely.
Though now it is established that in the ever-branching tree of alternate worlds we live in a stunted little twig poking out at an odd angle, I dare not predict anything with confidence any more. Johnny English did become head of MI7, after all.
August 31st, 2015 | 13 comments - (Comments are closed)
On July 23 virtually every news outlet in the United States ran some version of the following headline: “Turkey Joins the Fight Against ISIL; Opens Air Base to Coalition Forces; Washington and Ankara Agree to Safe Zone in Syria.” The media, being what it is, dubbed Ankara’s decision to order up airstrikes on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces a “game changer”, which is what journalists say when they have nothing else to say, do not understand a situation and are itching to get back to covering Donald Trump.
When I was abroad recently, I watched the hotel TV, like you do. The same big story got repeated over and over again, like it does. Do you know what BBC World News thought was the most important story on Earth?
Cecil the lion (peace be upon him). The BBC had a reporter with the crowd outside the house of that American dentist who broke the world’s heart. “Nothing has been seen of Mr Palmer,” smirked the reporter, “which isn’t surprising considering what some people here are saying they are going to do to him.” Then the camera panned to the house for a good long look at it so that anyone else wanting to kill the man would know where to go. I always wondered what it would take for the BBC to see the merits of vigilante justice.
Not to be outdone by the Yanks, now Britain has its own Walter Palmer. Not to be outdone by the Beeb, the Daily Mail is at the head of the mob.
Former GREEN PARTY councillor revealed as a big game hunter who poses for trophy photos with his kills – and defends shooting Cecil the Lion
A former Green Party councillor has defended his hobby – as a big game hunter.
Defiant Ben Wightman, 27, has proudly posted trophy photos of himself next to a series of animals he has shot in South Africa.
The controversial images – on his publicly-open Facebook page – show a grinning Wightman, rifle in hand, crouched beside a host of dead animals, including two antelopes, a bloodied warthog*, an ostrich, buffalo and a zebra.
Wow, a Green Party apex predator. I like it. The Daily Mail commenters don’t. “The comments below have not been moderated”, it says. You can tell. The Mail would not deprive its readers of the manly pleasures of making death threats to people they’d never heard of ten minutes ago. But doesn’t this blockhead know the script? He’s not backing down:
‘I am a firm believer that one of the best ways of management and conservation is with a rifle.
‘We are taking out old, lame or unfit animals that are causing problems for local farmers.’
*Note to the Samizdata elves. A warthog is practically a hippo. I’ve waited years to use this category.
August 26th, 2015 | 37 comments - (Comments are closed)
I recently had a clean-out of my home, and one of the things I chucked out was a small stack of recent and not-so-recent newspapers.
Before binning them I took photos of their front pages, because front page photos, I find, can often make very evocative souvenirs. Plus, unlike the actual newspapers, they don’t clutter up my home. (Just my hard disc.) I also often take photos of front pages when I am out and about in London. Maybe (although I promise nothing) I’ll do one of those “a year in newspaper headlines” postings, come the end of the year.
I haven’t gone through this latest clutch of front page photos properly yet. My camera always sees more than I do, until I really look at what I’ve got. But, I have already been smiling at this front page headline:
Someone’s having a laugh, right? I don’t think it’s just me.
And the date above the newspaper headline …:
… tells me that one of the someones having a laugh is the Evening Standard. Nice one, gentlemen.
A journalist called Catherine Porter took her nine year old daughter to a “Jobs, Justice and Climate” march in Toronto. While there the child had a conversation with Ezra Levant. Ms Porter gave her account of that conversation here: My daughter’s run-in with Ezra Levant at her first protest. She made Levant out to be a big bad bully. Her account appeared in a respected newspaper, the Toronto Star, and although Levant’s reply giving his own, very different account of his dialogue with the little girl was published, by the time it appeared the narrative had been settled and it was only his word against hers anyway.
Yes, of course I made that last bit up. This is the twenty-first century, you know. You know even if Catherine Porter does not. Naturally Ezra Levant made sure to get the whole thing on video and was able to conclusively – and amusingly – demonstrate that Catherine Porter’s account deviated from the truth in numerous ways. The weird thing is that she cannot have been unaware of the camera. Levant is a lawyer who has had numerous run-ins with leftists and he insisted on getting Ms Porter to state to camera that she gave permission for Levant to speak to her daughter. Incidentally, one of the details her account obscured was that it was Ms Porter who called Levant over to talk to her daughter and she who asked for the encounter to be filmed. He was initially quite reluctant to debate with a child, rightly fearing that Ms Porter Senior intended to set him up for propaganda purposes.
Why on earth did she write as she did in the Toronto Star? Good grief, it’s not as if potentially embarrassing encounters routinely being filmed at rallies as a defence against misreporting is something that only came in last month. Did she think Levant would just accept being slimed like it was 1999?
… burn this statist anachronism down and salt the earth upon which it stood.
At least the Stupid Party currently governing the UK seems willing to clip the BBC’s wings, but that really is not even nearly enough. In this age of the internet, the whole notion of a state owned media enterprise is redundant. Moreover it is absurd for the nominally conservative Tory party to sustain a tax funded media organisation that is run overwhelmingly by partisan Labour and Green party supporters.
When Forbes writers say there is something very wrong with the games press, highlighting the very same points the gaming community has been arguing for many years, you sit up and listen. These pernicious and – contrary to what the average video game reviewer would have you believe – systemic problems were beautifully summarized in Kain’s article.
Added later: The Guardian yet again. Marina Hyde calls for a new Oscar for Best Instance of Professional Adequacy in Extremely Unsatisfactory Circumstances and reminds us of a “positively legendary” quote from Michael Caine regarding his presence in Jaws 4,
“I have never seen it,” Caine told an interviewer, “but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
I am not really a football person, though I did once understood the offside rule for about ten minutes. Who would have guessed what enjoyment a film about FIFA could bring me and so many others? The only thing that could have made this masterpiece better would have been to have Sepp Blatter play himself. After all, Montgomery Burns managed it.
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