Only a small risk of getting rabies

Michael Jennings:

Oh, those glorious days of the past when I could be bitten by dogs in beautiful places with glorious mountains, churches, food and wine, with only a small risk of getting rabies. I miss those days so much.

Sigh.

Ghost apple

Weird:

“Ghost Apples” are an unusual phenomenon where freezing rain coats rotting apples before they fall, then when the apple turns mushy it eventually slips out and leaves the icy shell still hanging on the tree.

This is a really good metaphor for … I don’t know what, but something.

Lots more e-scooters – and an e-scooter near miss

When out-and-about yesterday afternoon, I lost count of the e-scooters I saw. These are about half of them, or so, maybe less. The photo-quality is rubbish, because I was usually busy photoing something else, and because, on London’s currently very empty roads, these things go really quite fast, and are usually past me before I even notice them. My speciality is static stuff, like architecture and sculpture and signs and photoers photoing and taxies-with-adverts stopped at traffic lights. E-scooters are seldom static, and when they are I tend not even to see them:

The best photo of an e-scooter by far that I photoed yesterday showed a very clear face of the person doing the e-scooting. Since there are legal uncertainties about whether and where these things are allowed, I didn’t show that one.

As Lockdown drags on, I become ever more impatient to learn whether these machines have any long term future in a traffic-heavy city like London. Lockdown has created very e-scooter-friendly circumstances on London’s roads, but that cannot last. I am zero-ing in, in my autodidactic way, on a law of transport, which says that all vehicles are really systems. You can invent a superbly clever vehicle. But if the right environment for it does not exist, or is the kind of environment that the powers-that-be are not inclined to create, then it’s no go. Steam locomotives are obviously also railway networks. Cars and lorries are, almost equally obviously, road networks, for which, in the early days of the car, there was huge political backing. Bicycles likewise need bicycle networks, or at the very least laws restraining the cars and lorries from running them over on what is basically their network.

Perhaps my waning enthusiasm for e-scooters is linked with the near miss I was subjected to very recently by a delivery e-scooter, e-scooting on the pavement I was slowly walking along. He was in a big hurry and had he hit me, I’d have suffered serious damage. I can remember when such behaviour was fairly common with juvenile-delinquent propelled bicycles, but someone or something seems to have taught some manners to the scumbag cycler fraternity in recent years. The e-scooting people will have to learn similar lessons if they want any help from the politicians, to create an e-scooter network. The e-scooting people I see, in London SW1, are almost none of them juvenile delinquent in demeanour or dress. They all seem like hard-working young citizens. That delivery guy is the nearest to an e-scooter delinquent I’ve encountered, but he too was working, very hard indeed, which is what caused the problem. Needless to say, I had no time at all to take any photos. He wasn’t stopping to apologise, quite the opposite. If he’d hit me, he’d have done a hit-and-run escape, assuming he was able to.

Once anecdotes like that start circulating, the politics of e-scooting will become more like the politics of knife crime. As in: Why the hell isn’t it being stopped?

Reflections on how an abundance of news every day has transformed American politics

This abundance, brought into being by the internet, means that you don’t have to read or listen to anything you don’t want to read or listen to. Whatever view you have of the world and what is happening in it, you can spend whatever time you have each day for such matters to confirm what you already see and think. I now think that the Democrats can only win the Presidency if they get away with their cheating. Meanwhile, Democrats think Trump is just a sore loser and a conspiracy theorist.

And I think the latest Lockdown here is a great folly.

The big change in America, brought by the Internet, is that the “mainstream media” used to be just that, but are that no longer. Before the internet, the “mainstream media” (basically the big television news shows) spoke to almost everyone but a few truly contrarian oddballs and freaks. Now, if you don’t entirely care for the point of view they give you, you can go elsewhere.

This had a knock-on effect on the mainstream media themselves. They started to acquire those inverted commas. They began not to be so mainstream. Their centre-left, what-the-government-is-doing-is-what-matters, if-you-want-something-sorted-get-the-government-to-sort-it attitude mutated towards an extreme left, put-the-government-in-charge-of-everything, capitalism-is-evil agenda. Why? Because if you thought the problem with government was that there was too much of it, you could now go elsewhere for your daily news, and commentary. You could choose, and daily have reinforced for you, any “extreme” agenda that suited you, in a way that only freaks like Marxists and libertarians of my sort used, before the Internet, to do (by writing our own news for ourselves). Now, if the “mainstream media” tried to appeal to everyone, they’d end up appealing to no-one. The smart thing for them to do was to choose the most popular “extreme” agenda and run with that. Which is what they have done, and which is why calling them “mainstream” no longer makes nearly much sense. (It sill makes some sense, because they have gone with the most popular extreme agenda. Which is still a bit mainstream, hence the survival of the expression.)

All that was needed to turn America into a profoundly different place was for a rival “extreme” agenda to arise, comparable in volume and force to the dominant extreme agenda, and, with Donald Trump arriving on the scene and proclaiming such an agenda, there you have it, America now.

And each tribe spends its entire day that it can spare telling itself how right it is about everything, and what evil nincompoops the other fellows are.

I’m part of this. I’m a Trumpist now. A Trumpist with libertarian trimmings and libertarian reservations, but a Trumpist. And I duly think that the Democrats are, on the whole and with various polite exceptions and reservations, evil nincompoops.

All of which explains why my posting here yesterday evening, about literal reflections, although it began as an attempt to change the subject away from mere politics, actually didn’t really do that. What that ended up being about was the human inclination to see what we’re looking for, rather than what merely “is” there.

See also, Scott Adams on two movies.

Regency Street reflections

Despite not feeling a hundred percent, I managed to drag myself out of doors earlier today. This was among the first worthwhile photos I photoed:

The title of this posting makes it sound like I was being unusually thoughtful, when in Recency Street. But, as you can see, these reflections were actual reflections. Of the afternoon sun from beyond that white wall crashing into Regency Street and bouncing off the windows above and behind me. It’s an effect that happens quite often in that particular spot.

After I’d done my little burst of photoing, a couple of nearby hard hat guys, baffled but curious, then worked out what I was photoing and said something to that effect. The point being, they couldn’t at first see it. Cue an exchange of reflections (of the more metaphorical sort) about how we humans see past irrelevances like shadows and reflections to the shapes of the objects we look at, but cameras show us pictures with all the special lighting effects included. We make mental models of what we are looking at. Cameras just look.

Because of all the shiny glass that all modern cities contain nowadays, you see a lot of lighting effects of this sort in London. If you do see them, that is.

A walk like the one I did today would have tired me out even if I was fully fit, which, as I say, I now am not. So, more photos from today to follow, but for now, that’s it.

As of right now …

Yes, as of right now (I’m starting this at 10.30am London time), it would appear that Biden has just moved back to being favourite to win this thing, very narrowly. Republicans are saying that Democrat state admins paused the counting in states where Trump was ahead, in order to know how many votes they still needed to count or contrive. Trump is angry about this. Leftist media are saying Trump is out of order.

The Democrats aren’t getting their blow-out for Biden, and I am certainly not getting my stonking win for Trump.

That crack made by Lenin or Stalin or some such monster, that what matters is not who votes how, but who counts the votes, is now rattling around in my head.

It’s all very different from last time. Then, the Democrats had no Plan B. Now, if you believe this kind of thing, as I am inclined to, Plan B is unrolling. So, Biden will win? And Republicans will spend the next four years contesting this?

Oh dear. Oh well. Life will go on. I’m now going to go out for a walk in the sunshine, and take some photos.

I’m now watching the election coverage by Newsmax TV

It’s 3 am on Wednesday morning, and yes, I am up again. Truth is, I did sleep a bit, but my actual night’s sleep has been slipping forwards, and it hasn’t actually begun yet.

Originally I was tracking this election by following the PJ Media live blog, but one of the people there said they were following Newsmax TV, and I gave that a try. I’m liking it a lot. No jokes, and constant explanations, for viewers whom they assume to be smart, but ignorant. No prior knowledge assumed. No doubt many Americans would find this insufferable. I am finding it very sufferable indeed.

The only slightly annoying thing is that there are four of them, and often they all seem to be talking at once. They need a chairman, to say: You, shut up. You: talk. Okay thanks, stop, now you. But otherwise, when they can agree who has the floor, it’s very informative.

Took me a while to work out that they are very pro-Trump. Which is exactly what I want. Pro-Trump, but not relentlessly and boringly so.

Is Newsmax TV “television”? Or is it merely stuff that’s live on YouTube? Until now, I had never heard of these people.

LATER: Well, their pro-Trumpery is actually pretty strong and obvious. And, as I’ve not yet mentioned: Trump is winning.

I’m going to bed now

I had planned to stay up all night, to see whether I get the President of the USA that (see below) I want. But, I’m tired, and it already (at 11pm UK time) looks like Trump has won. Early impressions can be wrong, goodness knows. Look what happened last time. But as of now, I’m fairly optimistic, more so than before the earliest evidence of what is happening started to emerge.

I’ll find out tomorrow. Or sooner, if all the fruit juice I’ve just been drinking gets me up in the middle of the (the as in: my) night.

Trumpism and the future of the world (and why I hope Trump wins)

Tucker Carlson is one of my favourite political orators just now. Go here, to see and hear him in typically fluent form. Carlson asks and answers the question: Why do Trump’s meetings attract Trump supporters in such vast numbers?

To put it another way: If – if – Trump wins re-election, how will that have happened?

Trump loves America, and all the actually existing Americans who also love American. (If he doesn’t love America, he does a hugely impressive job of pretending to.) Millions of Americans understandably agree with Trump’s American nationalism.

But there is more at stake than merely the future of America. There’s a whole world out here to be considering.

Since the late eighteenth century, the world has been progressing in a spectacular way, despite all the bad stuff we all know about. Around 1780, there was this kink in all the graphs measuring human creature comforts, and things started getting rapidly better, and this fine trend in human affairs has continued ever since, with many interruptions in such places as Russia and China, but nevertheless unmistakeably. Everyday life, for everyone, even and especially for the very poorest people in the world, continues to get better and better. But will that continue? Might this excellent trend even go into reverse?

The best book I have recently read that grapples with those sorts of questions is The Wealth Explosion by Stephen Davies. Davies argues that what kicked off this spectacular explosion was that, when and where it happened, in Europe in the late 1700s, Europe was not politically unified. That meant that when the materials that went into the explosion began to be assembled – progressive technology and all the thinking that went into it, basically – there was nobody in Europe willing and able to stop this. On the contrary, because the various rulers of Europe were all quarrelling with one another, they all had a powerful incentive to stay ahead of one another in this race. In the world’s other civilisations, that didn’t happen, and technological stagnation ruled.

But Davies’s book is not only about the past. In it, he also ruminates upon the future. The big question for him is: What is modernity? Because if we know what it is, we may know better how to keep it in being.

He identifies several processes that might bring modernity to a halt and turn the last two hundred and more years of technological progress into a mere passing phase, like an earlier progressive episode that had happened in China. That episode was ended by a combination of military disaster and a subsequent Chinese ruling class decision to end it. Technological progress was quite consciously and deliberately stopped in its tracks.

One threat to modernity might, Davies speculates, be nationalism, and its associated fixed sum economic fallacies. By reversing international economic cooperation, such nationalism might throw progress into reverse, in the same kind of way that it did when the Great Depression got started, only more so. Trade war, and then perhaps even consequent actual war. That kind of thing. For Davies, good libertarian globalist that he is, Trump and all he stands for looms like a menace to everything good in the world and in its future.

But another threat to progress that Davies mentions seems to me at least as plausible, which is that globalisation will intensify, and create a global ruling class that will then, in the manner of the rulers of Imperial China, all agree that progress, because it is unsettling for the world and in particular for them, is bad and must be stopped. This ruling class might, in contrast, continue to pay lip service to the idea of progress, but will end up stopping it by mistake, in their efforts merely to improve and domesticate it.

I regard the second of these scenarios as a far greater threat to the world than the first. After all, does not Davies himself tell us that it was European “nationalism” that allowed all of this progress to get started in such a big way, back in the 1780s? If the world were now to unify, might that not prevent progress from happening, just as it prevented it everywhere else in the world outside of Europe (with the exception of Japan (which instead became a sort of honorary European country)), at the time when Europe itself was bursting forth into modernity? Ask questions like that, and Trump ceases to be a menace and becomes instead a protector and provoker of continuing global economic dynamism. He is now keeping the world un-unified, by refusing to let America become an outpost of a globalism dominated by quite different impulses centred around places like China and Russia, impulses that could switch off modernity far more thoroughly than continuing national rivalry ever could.

Trump, it seems to me, is a force for continuing global economic dynamism.

Meanwhile I sure hope Trump wins his election. I have no idea what the result of this election will be. I wish I could tell you this beforehand, but I cannot. I can only tell you what I hope, which is that Trump wins it by a stonking majority, so stonking that all those idiot left wing rioters are reduced to a state of spified shock and immobilised immiseration, sitting in their parental homes gibbering with incomprehension, and not a few of them obliging us all by committing suicide, and so stonking that the more civilised Democrats, the sort who prefer indoor corruption to outdoor looting, all decide that they must become Trumpists themselves.

If Trump wins like this, he will also speed up Britain’s escape from Lockdown, because a stonking Trump victory will, among other things, be a victory for anti-Lockdownism.

Like I said, not a prediction, merely a hope.

Michael Yeadon: “SAGE is hugely mistaken”

SAGE being the committee of “experts” who are currently ill-advising the British Government.

Concerning the policy that this advice is now unleashing upon us, Michael Yeadon tweets:

Please spread far & wide.
I’m more certain than ever SAGE is hugely mistaken.
The PCR test has replaced the virus itself as the threat sweeping the country. Completely unreliable.
The number of people dying of respiratory illness Sep-Oct is LOWER than same period last 5y.

And there’s a brief video of Yeadon saying this, that’s more than worth the minute of your time that it will take you to watch.

If you have more time for this guy, and I have a lot of time for him, have a listen also to this interview with Delingpole. Early on, Yeadon asks people to look also at his piece for Lockdown Sceptics about What SAGE Has Got Wrong.

This interview includes, right at its start (in fact before it really starts at all), an amusing way-off-topic anecdote about the WW2 Avro Lancaster factory in Yorkshire, which was at a place called Yeadon.