Perry de Havilland on those Covid demonstrations

Well, I managed to do a posting that I had merely hoped to do for Samizdata, about the Covid demo in London the weekend before last, linking back here to all the photos of it that I stuck up here.

Here. and there, I added some rather rambling verbiage about how I had mixed feelings about such demos. Do they work? What do they achieve? That kind of thing.

And I really liked Perry de Havilland’s comment on my Samizdata piece in response:

Demonstrations are much misunderstood; particularly ones like this (& this was a huge demonstration).

They are not going to change state policy directly because that just isn’t how things work, they are mostly about deisolating activists, they are about demonstrating to the demonstrators that they are not crazy (even if some of them are as is the case in any group of disparate people).

Demonstrations are a building process. Demonstrations in this case are particularly effective at highlighting assorted lies about this particular disease. After all, get hundreds of thousands unmasked unvaccinated people shouting for a few hours face to face, there is going to be an observable spike in deaths each time, right? Right? 🤣

Some demonstrations against the lockdown got hammered by the police earlier on … why? Because they were small enough to get hammered by the police to try and discourage other demonstrations. In this demonstration, the police were so vastly outnumbered, by a march that refused to even tell the police where it was going to march (by design), there was never any chance it could be stopped with truncheons. And the demonstration’s organisation was connected yet dispersed, utterly protean: a couple organisers were arrested before the march to try and derail it, and expecting that, others on various platforms seamlessly took over.

What THAT demonstrates to the marchers is that resistance is not futile, they are not alone. In fact, they are legion. It was an anti-lockdown march but it was also an anti-media march, giving lie to the idea that utterly dominating the media dominates public opinion (as if Brexit had not already proven the falsity of that in the internet age). How many times do crap opinion polls have to get it wrong for demonstrable things (such as election & referendum outcomes) for you to stop believing them when things are less demonstrable?

If you don’t ‘get it; then who cares; you are most likely not the target audience. But these marches are not a pointless hissy fit like some marches, these particular marches are literal in-your-face defiance of instructions by the state intending to protect you from “the inevitable consequences of a terrible disease spreading amongst crowds”. These marches are an absolute refusal to obey & a demonstration that the state relies on your willing even if grudging compliance, because there is a tipping point beyond which they do not have enough people with truncheons to force your compliance. That is what demonstrations like this are for & it is working just fine.

Perry and I have since talked further about this, and it is clear, from his and other comments, that libertarianism, as I merely speculated hopefully, really is spreading amongst those demonstrators. In general, says Perry, a lot of people are going to be radicalised by Covid, more precisely: by the response to Covid. This will take time, as the economic damage done by this response makes itself felt and as the facts start emerging in greater detail, both the scientific facts and the policy making facts. Of course, nothing like all of this radicalising will be in a libertarian direction, but a lot of it will.

And I had completely ignored the crucial point that this one was a demonstration in favour of the right to demonstrate, and in defiance of the claim that demonstrations would spread The Plague.

Perry and I also agreed that if it had been a real Plague – dead bodies in the street, double digit percentage deaths and so on – our attitude would have been very different. This is an argument about the mishandling of medical data, not just a libertarian “hissy fit”, to quote his phrase.

Although, I rather suspect that for many, “hissy fit” is simply a demonstration they don’t agree with. Which was why I mentioned those pro-Remain demos in what I wrote at Samizdata. I disagreed with those demos, yet they were clearly demos, and they clearly will have consequences, even if not those that the demonstrators will be fully satisfied with, of just the sort that Perry described.

Perry also mentioned how getting to know this lady had informed his thinking on these matters. He zeroed in on this sentiment, that I also mentioned in that earlier posting:

Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

In other words demos say, if only to the demonstrators, but typically also to many sympathetic but timid onlookers: You are not the only ones thinking like this.

E-scooters big and small – safe and unsafe

I get emails whenever e-scooters are mentioned on the internet, but the problem with these emails is that they often refer to very different sorts of vehicles.

E-scooter can mean this …:

… which is a photo I found in a piece linked to in today’s google email.

Or, perhaps more commonly, e-scooter means this …:

.. that being a lady I photoed e-scooting along Vauxhall Bridge Road last week.

Another piece linked to in today’s e-scooter email was to this report which says that hired e-scooters are to be tested in various parts of London from early next month.

This piece claims that:

In the U.K., the electric kick scooter is classified as a PLEV, or Personal Light Electric Vehicle, and these are illegal on British roads or pavements.

That sentence includes two verbiages I’ve not encountered before, “electric kick scooter” and “personal light electric vehicle”, in an only moderately successful attempt to clarify that they are talking about e-scooters like the one in my Vauxhall Bridge Road photo, rather than about something heavier like the Honda photo above. The giveaway being that they still felt the need to include a photo of an e-scooting person standing on an e-scooter like the one I photoed, to make it entirely clear which they meant.

As for the notion that these contraptions are “illegal”, well, in London, they fall into that category of “illegal but actually allowed”, along with such things as possessing marijuana, or big left-wing demos during total Lockdown. As all Londoners know, e-scooting of the second sort above is regularly to be observed on London’s roads and bicycle lanes and footpaths. And as my photo also illustrates, this is not only being done by dodgy looking male teenagers in hoods but by respectable looking people like the lady in my photo. I could of course be quite wrong, but something about how she has arranged everything in her backpack, and her all-round appearance of sartorial organised-ness, to say nothing of her womanly as opposed to girlish figure, says, to me anyway: “steady job”. Which I believe she was engaged in getting home from when I photoed her.

I remain very curious to see how this story plays out, post-lockdown. My understanding is that the rulers of the world won’t be happy until they have entirely banished all private cars from all places like London, and that if any e-scooters get mown down by old school internal combustion type traffic, the traffic will be blamed rather than the maimed or killed e-scooting persons.

In my opinion, e-scooters like the above Honda are basically okay in the current traffic regime, but that to accommodate “personal light electric vehicle” type e-scooters will require a major rewrite of the traffic rules, and a massive amount of physical re-arranging. This is because, in my further opinion, e-scooters like the above big scooter are more or less safe, so long as you are careful, whereas e-scooters like the above smaller scooter are deaths and maimings just waiting to happen. I have talked with several random members of the “illegal” e-scooting fraternity (“Excuse me, I write on the internet about transport matters, I wonder if you could tell me about these machines …”), and they seem to feel that, appealing though these things are as an idea, they are not, as of now, nearly as safe as they’d like them to be. My guess, as I say, is that they will eventually be made to work safely, but only after what amounts to an urban transport revolution.

We shall see.

Lots of people watch the FA Cup Final

Today I watched the FA Cup Final on television, in which Leicester City defeated Chelsea by the momentous margin of one-nil. The one was good, though.

But the reason I watched it was because it had a whiff of more than football about it, because there were, for the first time in ages at a football match, twenty thousand odd people actually in Wembley Stadium, watching it and of course shouting:

The victorious Leicester players there, in confusing brown, acknowledge the cheers of their fans, in confusing blue. Confusing, because the Chelsea players wore blue.

The commentators keep trying to persuade themselves that the FA Cup is what it was, when, for reasons to do with European qualification, it is not what it was. There used to be a European Cup Winners Cup, which you could only be in if you won your local Cup. Not any more. Now, you can be in the Consolation European League just by coming fifth or third or whatever in your local league. The FA Cup has accordingly lost its unique place in English life, and the commentators bang on more and more about its glorious past, which is a sure sign that its present is less glorious.

I seem to remember one year when Liverpool or Man U, or some such club ducked out of it, to play in some game in South America which they reckoned counted for more. “The Cup” was never the same after that.

Nevertheless, this one was a little bit special.

Big demo – zero Covid result

Winston Tarquin Smith:

Evening all … 1 million marched in London 2 weeks ago … and nobody died of Covid.

And in the follow up tweets, this:

I don’t know why it’s “CONVID” rather than COVID.

To be clear, the question is not: Are they now getting this wrong? Yes, of course, but merely guessing wrong is forgiveable. The question is: Should they have known a long time ago? I suspect: Yes again.

I reserve the right to change my mind about all things Covid. (Come to think of it, something like that applies to everything I say.)

But, see also, this on Samizdata today. Every time I see a clever person talking this way, the more I am inclined to believe it was all a horrible over-reaction. And yes, this is an “argument from authority”. Arguments from authority are to be taken with seasoning, but they are not a “fallacy”, like post ergo propter hoc (after therefore because). They aren’t definitive proof, because experts can certainly be wrong. But they are a clue, to add to all the other clues.

Masked beast outside St Ermin’s Hotel

There must be a million statues with masks on them these days, given what these days are still like, but here’s the first one I have actually encountered on my recent photo-travels:

Yet another photo-souvenir of the times we have all lived through (apart from those of us who didn’t).

That particular beast (what exact sort of beast it is I can only guess – Dragon? Bear?) is the one holding a sign, saying nothing at all, outside St Ermin’s Hotel, which is near to St James’s Park tube, which is one of my local tube stations.

One of the arguments I am looking forward to learning more about, as time goes by and as the Covid books start appearing, concerns just how little good and how much harm these muzzles have done, and, crucially, how soon they knew, or should have known, such stuff.

Dragons on the road map

Guy Herbert:

It’s the sort of #roadmap that has “Here be dragons” written all over it, isn’t it?

Yes. My part of Twitter is all: The politicians are tyrannising over us. I wonder. What if they are just scared? Of course, the second does not rule out the first.

Engine issue

Via Instapundit, this:

Police in Broomfield stated on Twitter that they received reports of dropped debris in several neighborhoods …

One of the engines on a passing United Airlines plane exploded. The plane flew back to Denver and landed safely. Nobody was hurt either by falling debris or in the plane.

CNN reported that there was an engine issue. I’ll say. A Boeing 777 apparently.

Lots more social media photos, including passenger videos of what remained of the engine, at the other end of the “this” link above. No way anyone could pretend this didn’t happen.

Quite a story. The Guardian agrees.

Steve Davies: Four new technologies to be optimistic about

I seem to recall a lecture, given by Steve Davies at the IEA just before Covid and the political reaction to Covid started spoiling all our lives, in which he warned that modernity might be stopped in its tracks or worse by some unforeseeable disaster, and that we should watch out. And I’m pretty sure that, during the Q&A, he even mentioned the possibility of a pandemic.

Now however, Steve Davies says, not unreasonably or inconsistently, that the future is brighter than many now, as the Covid crisis persists, assume or at least fear:

People everywhere need to recover their sense of confidence and optimism and to realise not only that this is, undoubtedly, the best time ever to be alive, but also that the future will be even better.

Davies then writes about four technologies which he says will transform life for the better: autonomous vehicles, synthetic food, artificial intelligence, and anti-aging medical treatments. So, life will not only be better; it will also last for far longer.

Regular readers of this blog will know that recently I have particularly noticed technology number two in the Davies list, synthetic food. And number one, autonomous vehicles, has long been to be an interest of mine also. I agree that both will be “epoch making”, eventually.

But I probably won’t live to see either epoch unfold. As far as I’m concerned, that last one, extended life-span, through the conquest of such things as cancer, can’t come too quickly. Which is why it almost certainly won’t come, for me, quickly enough.

However, I recently I heard some wisdom based on recent personal experience spill out of my mouth, to the effect that, now, being told that I have a potentially quite-soon-fatal disease, at my already quite advanced age, is a big deal, but not that big a deal. This just means that I will die a bit sooner. But what if such a medical mishap meant that I died a lot sooner, like about a two hundred years or more sooner? That would be a very big deal. In an age of multi-century lifespans, if that is what is about to arrive, people will surely become far more risk averse even than they are now, because they will have so much more to lose by dying.

But then again, adolescent boys have long had a lot to lose and they are notoriously prone to risk-taking, just for the hell of it. So, what do I know?

In general, will people actually be any happier? I doubt this, because happiness seems to depend more on one’s internal mood than on one’s mere circumstances. I don’t feel any more miserable now than I was a couple of years ago, when I was unaware of my medical condition and before it started or at any rate before it started hurting.

J. P. Floru is doing a book about Covid

Called “Covid Hysteria”, so I think I know how he’ll be coming at the subject. I learned this from Facebook, in a posting sent out to all his Facebook friends. But you surely don’t tell all your Facebook friends something you are trying to keep deadly secret, so I assume he won’t mind me gossiping about this. If he does mind, well, he should have been more discreet.

I greatly admired this earlier book of his.

Would you like to live on top of a petrol station?

Today I staggered out to do some shopping. Well, to be more exact I walked out, but then staggered back. Whatever. Anyway, during the walking bit, I photoed just one photo. This:

The light is dim and the focussing uncertain. (I think I should start photoing more photos with my mobile phone.) But you will get my point, once I get around to making it.

My point being: That’s a petrol station in Vauxhall Bridge Road, just before I get to my shops. And above it and right next to it, people live.

Would you want to live above a petrol station? I don’t think I would.

I grumble here from time to time about health and safety, but only in a world where health and safety trumps everything else would a building such this one seem routine. Irony alert: “Health and safety” means that there are now huge risks that we are willing to undergo now, which we were not before.

Imagine living in such a place during the Blitz. Not that I suppose for one moment that anyone ever did.