It seems that Alain de Botton, who I might add is a weapons grade plonker of the first order, has finally come up with a good idea.
As his next project, the philosopher and founder of The School of Life is aiming to revolutionise pornography. Driven by the way society has been saturated by explicit images and videos, de Botton is asking ‘what next for porn?’. The writer intends to meet with leaders in porn and the arts in order to bring about a better kind of pornography.
Well I am all for anything that leads to better products. And perhaps he will use this opportunity to point out to these “leaders in porn” that boob implants are to porn what McDonald’s is to fine dining.
What does anyone know about the outfit calling itself FairSearch?
Based on growing evidence that Google is abusing its search monopoly to thwart competition, we believe policymakers must act now to protect competition, transparency and innovation in online search.
Policymakers? That is a bit like asking a collective of rapists to protect chastity, virginity and privacy. In my experience nine times out of ten when I hear people calling for a market leader to be kicked by ‘policy makers’, it is because they find it cheaper to pay lobbyists to do in the competition’s legs than actually compete with them.
Anyone have the low down on these guys?
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
James Taranto (with thanks to Instapundit for the link and the quote):
In 1999 Lionel Tiger coined the word “bureaugamy” to refer to the relationship between officially impoverished mothers of illegitimate children and the government.
A little googling tells me that this word hasn’t been completely ignored since 1999. But if the internet had been more of a Thing in 1999, I surmise that it might have become a universal commonplace by now.
So far it seems to have been mostly Americans using the word, but we could sure use it here in the UK. That link takes you to a quote of Tiger’s original suggestion, with some more context from him.
What may have been holding this word back is that it is not instantaneously clear (or not to me – comments?) whether it should be pronounced byoo-rogue-amy, or byoo-rog-amy. It has to be the latter, but I found myself having to stop and work it out, which is not what you want with a neologism, however badly needed. It’s that “eau” in a slightly unfamiliar setting that slows you (me) down. Is the answer actually to change the spelling, to “burogamy”. i.e. switching from “bureaucracy” to “monogamy” one syllable sooner? Neither is perfect, but it’s probably better to stick with the Tiger original.
What is very excellent about the word is that you know at once what it means.
(Last minute editing of this, changing “byoo-roe-gamy” to what you see above, suggests also a word like “buroguery”. Or should that “bureauguery”? Time to stop this.)
A bit of a buzz has generated around the idea of Jonathan Haidt, with his notion that some people are born more “conservative” or “liberal” (in the US usage of those terms) than others, and that we can use genetics to explain, or partly explain, why people hold the views they do. It is easy to see why a lot of people might be wary about this sort of thing, as it might smack of determinism, but I think Haidt tries to be very careful to avoid falling down that particular rabbit hole:
“Innate does not mean “hard-wired” or unmalleable. To say that a trait or ability is innate just means it was “organized in advance of experience.” The genes guide the construction of the brain in the uterus, but that’s only the first draft, so to speak. The draft gets revised by childhood experiences. To understand the origins of ideology you have to take a developmental perspective, starting with the genes and ending with an adult voting for a particular candidate or joining a political protest. There are three major steps in the process.”
My own take on all this is that yes, it might well be very useful to know more about why we hold the views we do, act as we do, and so on. To know thyself is the beginning of understanding and all that. I am struck by this paradox: we are, as humans, a species that, unique among all others, has the desire to “look under the cover”, so to speak, to see how we got to be what we are and why we are the creatures we are, and then, hopefully, overcome whatever shortcomings and problems we find to become, well, hopefully better. In other words, we may not be a blank slate, but we are not prisoners of some sort of ruling, all-powerful genetic code, either. I sometimes worry that some people become beguiled by these new forms of Darwinism to such an extent that they forget that pesky, and awkward thing that we seem to have in us: volition, or Free Will.
Another point I’d make about Haidt’s idea is this: if it is true that people have certain traits like a predisposition to hold certain views because of their genes, how does he deal with those children who rebel against their parents’ views? I know of several libertarians, for instance, who clearly took against their parents’ hard socialist/other collectivist opinions. And in some cultures, children are more conservative than their parents out of rebellion – I am sure this is something that has happened among parts of the Muslim community in the UK, for example.
Anyway, food for thought. Here is a TED lecture by Haidt.
We are in the top four of the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame, in which listeners, aided by diligent wretches paid a pittance to post on Twitter, choose their favourites and they are played in reverse order of popularity. Currently something by Beethoven is playing. Don’t ask me. I quite like classical music but know almost nothing about it, being only slightly better off than Ulysses Grant who knew two tunes, of which one was the Star Spangled Banner and one wasn’t. However, better educated members of my family were ranting about which pieces of classical music should be expelled from the Top Twenty for being over-rated, boring, associated with the European Union or similarly cursed.
My daughter, a musician, threw a particular wobbly at the appearance of Pachelbel’s Canon in the list.
What else would you suggest? And no complaining about that Final Fantasy thing being there; I thought that was nice.
Update: I have the beginnings of a Sociological Observation to make this post respectable. It is that the compère seemed very relaxed about the fact that the diligent wretches paid to post on Twitter were having an effect. He seemed to quite admire the internet campaign that got the Final Fantasy VII music into the top twenty. I am sure that in the old days organised campaigns would have been seen as cheating; now it is just the way things go.
Ineptocracy – A new word for our times
*Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy)* – A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.
This via a comment by our local neighbourhood ‘ukipwebmaster’.
I have though for a while now that this term deserves wider currency and to be used in all seriousness.
Arinsal, Andorra. January 2011.
Bourg Madame, France. January 2011.
Roses, Spain. January 2011.
Lisbon, Portugal. February 2011.
Istanbul, Turkey. March 2011.
Slunj, Croatia. April 2011.
BihaÄ‡, Bosnia and Herzegovina. April 2011.
Fez. Morocco. May 2011.
Ceuta. May 2011.
Algeciras, Spain. May 2011.
Banwar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, May 2011.
Coolangatta, Australia. May 2011.
Labuan, Malaysia. May 2011.
Sepilok, Sabah. June 2011.
Lawas, Sarawak. June 2011.
Meden Rudnik, Bulgaria. August 2011.
Bucharest, Romania. August 2011.
Comrat, Gagauzia. August 2011.
Balti, Moldova. August 2011.
Chernivtsi, Ukraine. August 2011.
Kraków, Poland. September 2011.
Bratislava, Slovakia. September 2011.
Brno, Czech Republic. September 2011.
Prilep, Macedonia. September 2011.
Elbasan County, Albania. September 2011.
Prizren, Kosovo. September 2011.
North Stradbroke Island, Australia. October 2011.
Tianjin, China. November 2011.
Vale de Telha, Portugal. December 2011.
It may be Christmas, Cthulhumas or Whatevermas for you.. but Samizdata wishes all friends of liberty peace and prosperity over the festive season and for the coming New Year.
For the last few weeks I have been trying to organise my home, and in particular the many papers – everything from hugely portentous to utterly pointless – piled up in it. But to derandomise and thin out the paper, I need space, and I have had no space. I also hope to be doing more entertaining in the months to come. So, where to find space?
Space is always achievable if you try hard enough, and I have now, at last, identified a spacially significant category of object which I will henceforth be doing without. Cardboard boxes.
Amd that’s just the ones I have already found. There are more, I know it.
Whenever a New Electronic Thing enters my home, as Things often do in these times of ever more miraculous and less expensive Things, I have felt the need to preserve the box in which the Thing came. I have done this in case I – or merely it – ever needed to move. Also, these boxes may come in useful to accommodate other things.
But Things can be moved without being in their original boxes, and actually, they usually are. Frequently to the dump, as will be the case with that huge television you can also see in the picture, now broken and worthless. Also departing in the same rubbish vehicle, my photocopier, and a chair the bits of which also appear in the photo above.
But it’s the boxes that really take up the space, which is why boxes always get chucked out eventually. The boxes are most unlikely ever to be as useful to me as the space they now occupy.
If, at some future moment, I need a big box, I will get get one, perhaps by buying one.
So now, there will be a great cull of boxes, even of boxes which contained Things purchased quite recently. This involves chopping and tearing them up into pieces small enough to fit inside rubbish bins. This will be quite a labour, and I would love to be able to say that this job will be done on Boxing Day. Sadly, I won’t be waiting that long.
You live in chains. In this awful century just passed, more than 150 million innocent people died in chains. And yet every person ever born was born free—unalterably, inviolably, immaculately free…
This is not the sort of thing I am used to finding in holiday tales, so I was delighted to discover these individualist holiday stories published for Kindle. Christmas at the Speed of Life (subtitle: Seasonal brutality – gift-wrapped) by William F. X. Connell focuses on what really matters, from a decidedly individualist viewpoint. I found this book thanks to Richard Nikoley, whose blog is a humorous mix of Paleo lifestyle content and anti-state, anti-religion polemic.
So if you are still searching for the perfect gift for a hard-to-buy-for individualist, or if you would like to gift your favorite stasist/statist with a subversive collection of short stories for the holiday, check it out.