Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.
E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)
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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.
( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)
The Old Comrades:
November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Oliver Kamm vs Neil Clark. Ever wonder how that was going? Now you know. It was nice of Oliver Kamm to take pity on the lad.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Milking allergy for all its worth. I accidentally posted a Biased BBC post over here. You can still read it over there.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Ed Thomas on recent US politics:
It's been one long fillibuster, and its effectiveness in lulling the Right has been taken as evidence of political know-how. In the sense that the political vacuum has made idle hands of Republicans, the Devil has made use of them.
Owe my soul to the company store... Hugo Chavez wants to force people to use local scrip in Venezuela. Not only would these tokens only be valid in one valley, they would lose their value over time. (Via No Pasaran's Joe Noory, who describes the proposal as, "making currency into a kind of neighborhood food-stamp that expire, and useless outside of your own ghetto. What this accomplishes is to make financial self-improvement impossible through savings [or] anything.")
Britblog roundup - here within about a minute of it being posted.
Had time to read a few now. Try Stroppyblog for a telling criticism of the much-quoted Matthew Taylor that does not even mention the famous line about the citizenry being "not yet ready for self-government" that so riled everyone else.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Burqa bans. If you want my take, it's here on the comments to this Samizdata post.
The burqa is obviously bad. Where it is not oppressive it is arrogant. The situation ought to beEr, when I said "I very much agree", I trust the bit about the buckshot was rhetorical.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The guilty man. JEM writes, regarding Milton Friedman:
Natalie,Whenever I get back from holiday and discover that a war, disaster or atrocious crime has stained the earth while I was not paying attention to the news I know in my heart that if I had been looking after things properly it would never have happened.
Odd creatures, humans. But most of them are quite nice once one gets to know them.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
EU Warning: this barometer is not to be eaten. Cleanthes of Select Society fisks an MEP called Linda McCavan. Little Linda does not appear to have paid attention in her physics lessons. Or her counting lessons.
This page from her website, "What Does an MEP Do?", tells us:
Labour's European Members of Parliament ensure that Brtian's voice is heard at the heart of the European Union.Brtians never never will be slaves...
You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Brussels.
Is democracy like sex? asks Glenn Reynolds, master of the teasing headline.
Cold war winners. Dunno why something this intriguing was buried in the Times business section:
Spy who soaked up London life with his KGB mates
Radio Solent hates the old! Andrew at Biased BBC explains.
So long as we tick the box marked input who cares about the output? Alex Singleton of the Globalisation Institute criticises the Millenium Goals view of foreign aid.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The divine right to free speech. JEM writes:
I hold the BNP in contempt.I wrote in this Samizdata post:
The conclusion that free speech promotes racial harmony is not obvious at first sight. Words lead to deeds, one might think, and so, obviously, harsh words will lead to harsh deeds. Nonetheless you may make some headway among sceptics if you ask them whether in their own lives they think it better to bottle up resentments or to voice them before they become explosive.
"Kind of a weird combination." Mark Steyn has said some nice things about this blog in the past, but that won't stop me saying that the most piercing quote in his interview with John Hawkins was from John Hawkins:
Europeans, from what I've seen, have a generally more dim view of the Middle East than Americans - like they think it's futile to try to build democracy in Iraq. You know, everywhere that you talk about -- well, democracy in the Muslim world just won't work. Yet, they're bringing in all the Muslims you could possibly imagine into their own home countries, and they're building them up to such a percentage that....if you get up to where 20%, 30%, 40% of your population is Muslim and you don't think Islam is compatible with democracy, that's kind of a weird combination. How's that happening?
Ask the experts. I don't know who wrote this piece appearing on "Sokwanele", a Zimbabwean opposition website. If the author still lives in Zimbabwe he or she is probably happier to forgo the pleasure of a byline. The seventeen months that have gone by since it was written have not, unfortunately, made it any less relevant. I don't necessarily think Chinese economic influence in Zimbabwe or Africa generally is a bad thing. Perhaps - never thought I'd write this - the voice of the People's Republic of China speaks with the nearest approach to economic wisdom that the government of Zimbabwe is willing to hear. But if you'd ever wondered why Mugabe should seek advice from the nominal Marxists who rule China, wonder no longer:
On becoming a Chinese colonyAnd
They will assist ZANU PF to gain total control of all information that circulates in the country so that people may remain in ignorance. They even know how to depopulate cities and send "unwanted elements" to the countryside for hard labour.Yes, the Chinese would know about that.
Coming soon: Tesco Value bustles. The November/December edition of Tesco magazine contains an article by Dr Miriam Stoppard called "12 health-hazards of Christmas."
The advice for the Ninth Hazard begins ...
If the sheer stress of Christmas causes someone to faint:I don't think Tesco has sold smelling salts since Jack Cohen "decided to invest his service man's gratuity of L30 in NAAFI surplus groceries to sell from a stall in the East End of London." (My browser is seeing it as "L30" anyway. Given that the business has grown a little since then, I think the Tesco website could afford proper pound signs.)
Mind you, I'm sure someone still makes 'em. Yes, they do. Perhaps they've come back in since I last had cause to swoon. In a world where there is, they tell me, a good remake of Battlestar Galactica no reinvention is too strange to be possible.
Monday, November 13, 2006
But only right wingers could sink so low as to share a talking point with the BNP, as my correspondent does below and my Biased BBC colleague Laban Tall does here? Not so.
Horrified because not horrified. ARC writes:
...waiting in a Heathrow flight gate late on Friday I could not avoid catching a long session of BBC news that was showing on a huge screen. But (while their coverage balance could have been better) this is not material for a biased BBC post (their coverage balance could also have been worse).UPDATE: After I posted this, my correspondent contacted me to say that he had misremembered the name of the BNP leader. I didn't spot that at the time but I have now corrected the post.
Mythbusting all round. Whittle on the right, Wardytron of Harry's Place on the left. (Scroll down to "we armed him".)
Someone in the comments nails another one. This was started by "resistor", who says:
For those who still deny that the Americans supplied SaddamResistor quotes more of the article - including the bit where Senator Robert Byrd, whose opinions have moved on since he was in the Klan without ever stopping anywhere near sense, questions Rumsfeld on the matter.
Stonking good reply from "DocMartyn":
No [I think this is a typo for "Not"-NS] the "American Type Culture Collection" again. Look, the American Type Culture Collection, is a not-for-profit organisation that holds and supplies micro-organisms to researchers all over the world. In the early mid-80's when I started my M. Sc. in biochemistry/microbiology I used to flick through their catalogue and lokk [look] at all the nasties you could order. It would supply pathogens to ANY RESEARCHER in any INSTITUTION in ANY NATION.
Crib sheet for the argumentative warmonger, courtesy of Bill Whittle, who argues against some of the commoner bumber-sticker slogans. Here's one of his replies:
There are millions of people – actually, probably billions now – who genuinely believe that the wealth of the US was stolen from third world countries. This is one of the great perks of living a life free of the ability to think critically and do a little research. I have heard this slander repeated so many times I decided to look into some actual numbers to see if there is anything to this charge. This is a perfect example of how critical thinking allows you to see the unseen. That attitude, Google and ten minutes is all you need to shoot lies like this down in flames.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
If you kill, tell me. Casting around on Google News I have just doubled what I know about the Gambia. It seems the country's president, Yahya Jammeh, was recently reelected.
And this was a speech he made to his assembled ministers, chiefs of the civil service and members of the press:
This one thing that I cannot forgive is hypocrisy and pretending. If you are sincere and honest I will be a friend to you. Even if you kill a person, tell me that you have killed a person, I will understand. I am a human being.An editorial in The Gambia Echo says,
In sum, sitting Cabinet Ministers and their hirelings are at liberty to kill innocent citizens as long as they inform President Jammeh later.It could be that Yahya Jammeh's enemies are worse than he is. The sort of points that one could make in his favour are that the Gambian press seems uncowed enough to dare call him a murderer, and journalists are killed in mysterious circumstances so rarely that the casual Googler soon learns one name, Deyda Hydara. It could be that his "kill but tell me" is a metaphor (for the President, as for the leader-writer of the Gambia Echo, English is obviously not a first language) or a rhetorical exaggeration, and that his political enemies are affecting to take it literally in order to slander him. Or it could be that he is as flagrantly ruthless as his words suggest.
I was struck by how small is the fraction of the events in the world that any one person can ever understand.
"By democratic decision, thank goodness!"
Tim Blair quotes joyful advocate of democratic values Simon Jenkins of the Guardian rejoicing that -
At this point the insurgency knows it has won, however long it takes the occupying power to go. Retreat in good order is the best hope. An era of ill-conceived, belligerent interventionism has come to an end - by democratic decision, thank goodness.
The guardian of our liberties. Our next Prime Minister speaks.
In the wake of the BNP pair's acquittals, Chancellor Mr Brown said: "Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country.(Cross-posted at Samizdata.)
But what about the trains?
"For all his faults Saddam Hussein’s Iraq imposed order. The water, the electricity, the oil wells faltered but largely kept going. The roads and streets were safe."- Kevin Toolis writing in The Times.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The stuff you really need to know. If you search for "the" on Google you get five billion three hundred million results and the top result is The Onion. That's because it's The Onion.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Washed in the blood of the Lamb. The BBC reports:
A Christian lobby group says the wearing of red poppies is "politically correct" and stifles debate."Not a value-free position." When I heard that the director of a Christian lobby group had said that, I was taken aback. "Take up thy cross and follow me" is not an invitation to take up a value-free position.
Having read Ekklesia's statement it now seems to me that the value-free bit was stunningly inept phrasing rather than what it first sounded like. I can go with "If you believe that those who serve in the armed forces are defending freedom, then freedom to consider alternative perspectives is surely part of what you stand for". Fine, sure, apple pie. I can also go with a consistent opposition to having any specific political position smuggled into Christianity. Or vice versa.
Such consistent opposition is not what Ekklesia offers. If you had signed up for the Ekklesia news feed for the 8th November the three stories you would have got are "New style Sandinistas regain power in hopeful Nicaragua", "Bush panics as US religious right fails to stem Democrat tide" and "Church support for report condemning Government policy in Nicaragua." The Ekklesia website is full of deeply political statements such as "the language and imagery about ‘fighting for freedom’ and ‘the glorious dead’ which often accompanies war remembrance reinforces a belief that violence is redemptive."
The red poppy has never claimed to be a Christian symbol. Many Christians wear it proudly, but it is also worn by people of all faiths and none to honour the dead of all faiths and none. The facts that we have Remembrance Day services in Britain that are primarily Christian (other faiths do also hold them) and that our prime means of commemorating the dead is a Christian service is in a sense accidental; a result of our history and culture. No one thinks for a moment that all those laying wreaths or observing the silence are necessarily Christian.
What they overwhelmingly do believe is the part Ekklesia don't like: that the glorious dead died for freedom.
Tired of talking about American stuff. Yet reluctant to talk about anything else. I'll put off posting your emails about the history of the dollar until I'm in a better mood.
So much for my prediction that there would be scarcely any change in the US Senate! I gave too much weight to all those claims that it was getting harder and harder to unseat an incumbent. Pollster Jay Cost, in an article engagingly entitled "Why I jumped the shark" says,
Theoretically, the mistake I made here was to presume that the incumbency advantage that obviously exists (this year's incumbency reelection rate is still about 95.2%) is automatic. Incumbents are in a good position to insulate themselves. But they are not automatically insulated. They must actually do the insulating.For America, that's cool. While the specific policies the Democrats will now foster over there are mostly bad, incumbents ought to run scared.
For the rest of the world, Iraq in particular... pity.
Pity is both a noun and a verb in the imperative mood.
The disaster that would follow an American pullout--collaborators would be tortured/murdered on a massive scale and no one would ever cooperate with Americans again--would be a tremendous benefit to al-Qaeda. America would never again be taken seriously in the Middle East or elsewhere as more than a tornado: we can temporarily pass through and smash anything that's out in the open, but in short order we're gone.I don't despair. Perhaps the horse will learn to sing. But I can't help remembering that the irrepressible thief who said that was under a suspended sentence of death.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I got troubles. Too much work, too little time to blog, VRWC Central won't answer the phone for some reason and a mysterious and lrming stickiness on my keyboard's letter "A".
But here is a fine new blog:
This blog's title needs some explaining: I am a British expat living in the Netherlands, and all things considered, I rather prefer it to the land of my birth. I try very hard to integrate, speak the language, and not be identified as an expat: as such, I consider myself a "nep Nederlander", a "fake Dutchman". Aside from when it is being congratulated in the press for being trendy and right-on in a way that it just isn't, Holland is largely ignored. Since I am now able to follow Dutch language news to a good degree, I intend to discuss it on here in English, in amongst other topics of interest.
Also via Nep Nederland, I came across a headline on The People's Cube (look on the top right of the screen):
Dems take house. Also car, salary, portfolio, and whatever else you got they can tax.
Republicans, cheer yourselves up with this one from Scrappleface.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Busy day today. Thanks to all those who sent replies to my question about the dollar. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Don't even think about trying to escape.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Tomorrow's headlines today.
If the Democrats win:
Bush pays the price for the Iraq War.
If the Democrats lose:
America has a long tradition of local issues dominating mid-term elections.
A pictoral reminder. Saddam Hussein did not order 9/11 - true. Saddam Hussein had no links with Al Qaeda - untrue. Saddam Hussein was very happy that 9/11 occurred - true.
This mural glorifying 9/11 was found by invading US marines in an Iraqi army headquarters in Nasiriya. I think it's safe to say that an army headquarters was not a place where you would find art displeasing to the leader.
The caption does not say where soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division found this mural of a smiling Saddam next to a picture of the plane hitting the twin towers, but I think it's safe to say that anywhere in Saddam's Iraq was not a place where you would find art displeasing to the leader.
Delayed dollars. Following this post in which I asked, "Wasn't it the case that it took decades for the same dollar to be in use all over the US?" I had an email from JEM on the subject of the dollar, which after touching on its European origins as the joachimsthaler said,
In the form of the Spanish colonial 8 real coin it was once also known as the 'piece of eight'--a lovely detail, don't you think?His main point was, "Pounds, euros, dollars, pieces of eight... they are all just units of account. Tools."
I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but in fact the point I wanted to make was more relevant to the troubles of the euro, although I concede I did not make myself clear. Second go: I think I read somewhere that for decades different US states had different dollars, presumably issued by local mints, and the exchange rate between these different dollars was not 1:1. Anyone know if I am right?
Take a break, catch a spy According to the Korea Times,
A yearly event for school children in the 1970s was learning how to distinguish North Korean spies from ordinary people and memorizing the phone number they had to dial when they found people behaving suspiciously.The Korea Times article talks as if all this were long-gone Cold War arcana, but this article about the Korean subway system says that similar posters are still up on the trains. Future Perfect has a picture. The number to ring is 111, in case you ever need to know. How quaint - er, wait a minute. North Korea really was inserting spies and assassins into the South. It really was kidnapping both Japanese and South Korean citizens to train their spies.
There are times when one must reassert that "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you" is an impeccably logical statement.
I meant to post something worthy about how South Korea, in a less well-publicised way than China, is increasing its economic links with Africa. But I was distracted by the the thought that those vending machine cups ought to be collectable.
Laughter is not a panacea. In 2003 I laughed at the way that the Charity Commissioners were trying to "modernise" the Panacea Society. The Society believe that if a box allegedly left in their keeping by seventeenth century prophetess Joanna Southcott is opened in the presence of 24 bishops of the Church of England the apocalypse will arrive (in a good way), remaking all of Earth except Bedford, that being the site of the Garden of Eden. I thought it terribly amusing that "Commission staff had been concerned for some time that this unusual religious charity was not putting its assets to effective use."
I laughed too soon. It seems that the Charities Commission is no longer content to just be "concerned" when a charity is not putting its assets to what the Commissioners think is effective use. Read Tim Worstall about the Charities Bill.
We've really come to this? That a bureaucracy can confiscate the assets of a charity? Think of this for a moment. There are those who think that SPUC (or whatever it is called now) is actively evil because it campaigns for what some think of as a restriction of women's rights. There are other charities (Marie Stopes for example?) who actively campaign on the other side of the same question, insisting that, as some would have it, children are being killed to maintain those same women's rights.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Offspring #1 said that this incredibly irritating little video about a unicorn called Charlie was the funniest thing she had seen in her life. I'm waiting for her to deduce from that that she was hatched from a cloning-vat last Wednesday.
Friday, November 03, 2006
We r stuk hear n Irak - but our message isn't. Jim Miller posts about the routes by which the image of the now famous banner reached several million screens.
I am rather sorry for Mr Kerry in that it was a gaffe, not a deliberate insult. However they that live by the sword will die by the sword: the media has feasted well on George Bush's slips of the tongue, and I didn't hear John Kerry complaining about it then.
The story also was given extra oomph by the fact that Mr Kerry made a big deal about his own military service in Vietnam. One example: he started his acceptance address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention by saluting and saying, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty," and finished up that speech with a reference to his Vietnam service too. The previous day he had made a river trip with his "band of brothers", former comrades from his Swift boat days, a major feature of his campaign.
There are many things about US politics that I don't get. One of them is how anyone ever convinced themselves that was a good idea.
I'm not talking about the counter-claims made by his less brotherly former brothers in arms, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I haven't looked into all that. Leave them out of the equation. Assume that his service in Vietnam was as admirable as it is possible to be. Kerry was still only in Vietnam for four months. Afterwards he joined the anti-war movement, chucked his military decorations over the Capitol fence and said that loads of American soldiers had committed atrocities. Maybe he had defensible reasons for doing all of these things - but given that he did, all that "reporting for duty" stuff looks most odd.
What a low opinion of Republicans Democrats must have if they thought that throwing them this little crumb would be enough to gain their votes. Look, he's a soldier. You like soldiers.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
An ASBO for the Archbishop. Not quite, but not so far off, either: Cathedral bans Carey as a 'divisive force'
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has been banned from one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain after accusations that he has become an “instrument of disunity”.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Means of control or delusion of control? JEM writes:
Your correspondent (whom I shall call 'C' for convenience if I may) who writes...Wasn't it the case that it took decades for the same dollar to be in use all over the US? I don't know what this proves, if anything.
The king is (not quite) dead. Long live the king! There are times when it is more proper to vomit than to debate:
Fidel announced that because of an intestinal operation, he was signing power over to his brother, who would be acting president. In Miami, there were celebrations in the streets, with shouted assurances that this meant the end of the Cuban Revolution. As one celebrant put it: "We'll all be home within a month. The Cuban people will never accept Raul!"- written by Wayne S. Smith in the Guardian. Emphasis added by me. Also spotted by Tim Worstall.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
A post about Torchwood, placed on Biased BBC for old times' sake.
Contains spoilers. Now you really can't resist.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Non-Europhile blogs. Very non. The EUsceptic roundup is hosted in his kitchen by the Devil himself. His language is about what you might expect from the Devil, but I feel sure he's a good boy really.
Beautiful musical geometrical dots rotating thing. Try the hand-cranked "version 17", too. Your and my time pleasantly wasted via Crooked Timber.
Excuses for absence. Better than most!
Hello Natalie,I know you're not blogging, mate. Look at your referrer stats. That's me, that is.
... Europhile blogs.
We Europeans abolished the death penalty long time ago, because we listened to sociologists, psychologists and experts on the field of death penalty. We Europeans believe in science, not in ancient books like the bible. During his legislative period, Gov. Bush signed not less then 152 death sentences. This means for me that he killed 152 human beings. This is a sad statistic which shows his barbarity. It’s the same thing with his wars: He is the reason for these wars, not anyone else. He is guilty. For me and many Europeans, he is comparable to evil guys like Stalin or Hitler. His cheating during the election (according to US film-maker Michael Moore) makes him a kind of dictator.
The lads are lined up against the wall, the women are screaming. The Black and Tans demand to know the name and occupation of each of the men. Most comply readily. All except one - Micheail; who refuses to say his name in English. The others give him pleading looks, yet he still refuses. He is taken into the chicken coop and beaten to death with a rifle butt.She obviously read the review in Time Out magazine: ("It’s not an historical event. Nor is Micheail a politician, a particular hero, or even a character with whom we’ve spent more than five minutes. Instead he’s a fictional, anonymous rural labourer invented by Loach and his regular screenwriter Paul Laverty...") In true Time Out style, Kirsty continues:
He was simply one of the many, many anonymous farm labourers who suffered wreckless brutality at the hands of the English.Er, didn't you say he was an actor, acting out a fictitious event?
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Britblog roundup. Why not try out Philobiblon, reviewing a book on the English Civil War?
Purkiss also maintains the often-buried genuinely radical elements of this English Revolution and explores the failure of imagination that meant these ideas of equality - of the participation of the ordinary man in politics - could establish only shallow roots. She finds a wonderful example of the Levellers finding an image of what they could only grasp at from a foreign culture.
UPDATE: Twit that I am, I forgot to put a link to the Britblog roundup around the words "Britblog roundup". There is in fact a roundup of interesting posts from British blogs that you can go and look at here where it says, "Britblog roundup."
The post by "The Englishman" about country wisdom regarding the employment of rabbit catchers and how this relates to speed cameras is very informative and rather funny.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The creator of Dilbert lost the ability to talk. He could still sing, or lecture to large audiences. (No, this isn't a joke, even though it does come via IMAO.)
Friday, October 27, 2006
Attack ads incoming! When presented with the contrast between the scurrilous political attack ads common in the US and the more decorous and infinitely less expensive political advertisements exhibited in Britain, Americans react in the same way British people do when presented with the contrast between the hard-bitten, smut-sniffing hounds of Fleet Street compared to earnest US journalists: they are barely able to conceal their pride. We play for real. You people do up the top buttons on your shirts.
When reading this article in the Times by Tom Baldwin deploring the attack ads in US politics ("candidates are plumbing new depths of taste and duplicity"), I felt inwardly sure that any one of our boys could drink any American j-school graduate (j-school, pshaw!, graduate, pshaw!) under the table and still get an exclusive interview with Heather Mills' other leg in time for the morning editions. This warmed my soul.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Bush League. Alex Bensky writes, quoting this post:
"Those who think that a clueless idiot can get and keep the office of President of the United States may well be good children or pleasant neighbours but there is no need to take anything they say about politics seriously."
Euron Eurown. In this post regular commenter JEM wrote
After all, if it's better for each country in Europe to have its own currency, how much better it would be if each county in the United Kingdom had its own currency too... or each town... or each street... or each house... After all, why should the Central Bank of 25 Typical Street hand over control of the 25 Typical Street Groat to the Central Bank of Typical Street and their Typical Street Groat?Another correspondent is critical:
JEM, who writes, does not appear to understand that a currency is also a means of control by a state over its subjects. The main argument against the Euro is not that Sterling is a pround patriotic icon, as JEM appear (rather unobservantly) to think, but that putting control of something so fundamental to our life under the control of a foreign, corrupt and generally useless bunch of bureaucrats is probably a very bad idea. Perhaps JEM would also like to see centralised control of the water system, gas and electricity from Brussels?
However Squander Two (who will be much too busy today to read this - best wishes to his wife and soon to be born child) quotes JEM approvingly and makes a proposal of his own:
Those people who hate the Euro wouldn't have to use it. Those who love the Euro could use it as much as they liked. The rest of us — which I reckon would quickly become most of us — could just use whichever was the most sensible at the time. We'd get lots of the economic advantages of having the Euro, with few of the disadvantages (I reckon — I'm not an economist). The public would generate money out of nothing as they'd start to watch interest rates closely and switch currencies whenever profitable. And everyone in the country would get much much better at mental arithmetic. Lord knows the schools aren't teaching it to them.The comments touch on John Major's "hard ecu" idea and the distinction between legal tender and legal currency. One of them came from Tim Worstall who continues on the same theme in this post.
The various countries within the euro zone simply are not an optimal currency area. You can quite happily argue that the UK itself is too large and diverse to be one as well but the problems of tying most of a continent into one are of course greater than the one we have here.
Why have I given this post the title it has? Mostly, of course, because I could. But also because I have to admit that I will be unable to accompany you too much further into this debate; even supplemented by what I can scavenge, my store of knowledge of these issues will not last long.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Totem or medium of exchange? JEM writes:
It is one thing to believe that the euro will 'break' and so we are better out of it. It is another to hope it will break, even when we are out of it anyway.
"Fundamentally, they are looking for magic." D-Ed reckoning summarises that paper on constructivist education I mentioned earlier.
To me, the title of "popularizer" is one of high honour. You will enjoy reading this. Includes entertaining tests and examples that will slip into your conversation five years hence. Not to mention a sentence incomprehensible to British readers.
When the political becomes the personal. Yesterday I failed to flag up another - indeed the very first - post featured in Britblog roundup for a reason that is rather typical of me. I had already copied the bare link into Blogger for myself, but hadn't yet made a post of it. Now I have. Squander Two, about to become a father at the time of writing, has more than the usual fears common to his position. His wife is diabetic.
What this means, for those of you who don't know much about insulin, is that a heavily pregnant diabetic woman is injecting herself four times a day with what would usually be a lethal dose. As soon as she gives birth — within minutes, in fact — the required dose goes back down, not only to what it would be usually, but, as sugar is now being converted into milk instead of stored as fat, even further down that that.Emphasis added.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Britblog roundup time again. Take a particular look at the post from Adloyada on Putin's joking about allegations of rape laid against President Katzav of Israel. It's here.