At the Royal Victoria Docks in March 2012

The basic reason I do personal blogging has always been that I don’t want any constraints placed by some agenda, in my case a political one, on what I consider to be interesting, or beautiful, or amusing, or interesting, or just likeable in some indefinable way. The rule I try to stick to is: Never, if I actually do not, say what I think or feel that I am supposed to think or feel. If that results in “contradictions” between things I consider of interest, so be it.

All of which is a preamble to saying that I hope I never stop doing postings like this one, with photos like this:

All of the above photos were photoed in March of 2012, on the way to (photo 1), on the way from (photo 28), or at or from (photos 2-27) the Royal Victoria Docks, which are out beyond Docklands. This evening, I came across a little directory, where I’d put them all, with something like this in mind. All the work of selecting had been done. So here they all are. And yes, you are right, I do have very conventional tastes in sunsets, with interesting things in the foreground. But if you ever decide to dislike something you like, because other people also like it, more fool you.

I love how shoving up great clutches of photos like this is so much easier than it was at the old blog, and that it is easy for you to click through them, if you want to, just as slowly or as quickly as you like, without a lot of backwards-and-forwards-ing. I don’t think that’ll ever get old.

Two Big Things were, at that particular moment, under construction. They were finishing up with The Shard, and they were building that weird cable car thing across the River, having, in March 2012, got as far as building the towers but being yet to attach the cables or cable cars.

One of my favourite Things at these docks is the new footbridge they built across it. It’s great to look at, and it’s great to look from.

I really hope that by the time half decent weather returns, some time around March 2021, I’ll be in a fit state to take advantage of it, and do more of this kind of photo-perambulating.

Carrie-Anne Brownian: Having to pretend to be a man is not the same as actually being a man

Carrie-Anne Brownian:

For much of recorded human history, even into the twentieth century, women who wanted to serve in combat, travel or live alone, work in most professions, get published, compete in sports, or conduct research felt compelled to disguise themselves as men. That didn’t make them transmen; it made them girls and women with no other options in a patriarchal, androcentric world. No one would have, for example, published George Eliot, or taken her seriously as a writer, had she used her birth name of Mary Ann Evans, just as Kathrine Switzer had to sign up for the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer as recently as 1967 because women weren’t allowed to compete.

This may be hard for liberal Westerners under the age of twenty-five to comprehend, but women have historically been denied access to positions of power, most careers, education, legal protections, politics, combat roles, club memberships, athletic competitions, and so forth, solely on the basis of being female. Women even had to fight for the right to use their own names on legal documents, instead of being forced to sign as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name, or to do anything of importance without a husband or father’s co-signature or permission. By anachronistically pretending all these brave, trailblazing women were truly men, the historical realities of institutionalized sexism and male privilege are written out of existence, and impressionable young people will be led to believe women haven’t played any kind of important role in history.

Quoted by and linked to by favourite-blogger-of-mine Mick Hartley.

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.

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.

Dan Hannan on why Twitter is so left wing

Yes, here’s what Hannan … er, tweets about Twitter’s lefty bias:

Why is Twitter so much more Left-wing that the population at large? Here’s a theory: it lends itself to angry, self-righteous and emotive statements. Conservative arguments are generally too nuanced to fit into 280 characters.

But not that argument, it would seem.

I note with interest that Samizdata supremo Perry de Havilland found this tweet to be of interest too.

I have heard it said that Trump and Trumpists have done very well with Facebook, and that this is a source of deep embarrassment to the people who run Facebook. But Trump has done famously well with Twitter too. He is the master of the short, sharp verbal missile hurled at his enemies in a way that again and again seems to enrage them.

Trump is very self-righteous and sometimes very emotive, but seldom angry. He knows that being angry is a sign of weakness, that you’re out of control. Angry is what the people on the receiving end of his tweets more commonly feel.

Time for me to stop this. It’s is getting far too nuanced.

One final point, though. I think that the social media, Twitter especially, have done a great job of showing how very nasty and destructive so many lefties are. They used to be thought of as people who meant well, but were a bit dim – aka “idealistic” – about how the real world worked. Now, they are more and more regarded as evil, as people who simply hate the real world and want it smashed to pieces.

LATER: This Thomas Sowell book, which I read a long time ago and must take another look at, seems pertinent to the above.

Why I now focus on American politics rather that British politics

If, when I choose to bang on about politics here, I further choose to bang on about the USA’s presidential election now, rather than about British political matters now, well, that’s because there’s so much more at stake over there just now. Here in Britain, our Corbyn moment came, and went. Corbyn threatened to turn us into Venezuela, but then we voters sent him packing. Would a Starmerian Labour British government be that much more of a disaster than how the Boris Johnson regime is turning out? Hardly. So here, we’re now back to a world where they’re all as bad as each other, approximately speaking. I would still prefer Labour to lose every forthcoming election ever, but Labour in their current state, winning? I could live with that, as could many others of my inclination.

But in the USA everything is still to play for, for as long as the Democrats remain in thrall to their lunatic fringe of Woke-fascist wreckers of everything civilised. I have long hoped, and am actually now starting very tentatively to even think, that Kamala/Biden will get such a thrashing in the election now under way that the Democrats may then decide to mend their ways, much as Starmer is now mending the ways of Labour. But it has to be a thrashing. A modified dead heat like last time won’t suffice. A lot of normals must change their minds in a way that the Democrats won’t be able to ignore. That happened in the recent election in Britain, and it changed everything.

The above paragraphs began life as the intro to something more specific about the US elections, but that didn’t work out. Also, I am off to the laundrette. More later, I hope.

Meanwhile, I did enjoy this.

Vote for us to get you out of the mess we made for you!

Victory Girls:

The Democrat Party survives because it builds a hopeless world, then tells voters that the only escape is through them.

This seems to have worked in the Democrat-ruled bits of America, ever since Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty and Poverty won. Trump’s achievement includes that even this may now start seriously to change.

James Lindsay on the Wokists and a change of mind by me about Marx

On the basis of it being recommended by David Ramsay Steele, I watched and in my turn now recommend this interview, in which James Lindsay describes and explains the Woke phenomenon.

In particular note what Lindsay says just after half an hour in, at 33m 50s. He says that the Wokists are dangerous, not because they all have a lust for violence as such, or not to start with. What they have is a passionate and unswerving belief that their principles should be installed into power. Because of the splendour of those ideas, all the world’s problems will then be solved. There’ll be no need for any violence. The world will simply be transformed into a utopian dream of perfection.

Which, of course, it will not be. That’s when the trouble cuts in. At that point, the Wokists will only have one remedy, namely violence against all those who have been pointing this fact out. The only alternative would be abject surrender, to the reality of how institutions do and do not work, and to all the millions of people whom they will by then have antagonised. At which point, the Wokists will be highly liable to follow the path previously beaten by the Stalinists and the Maoists.

This explication actually changed my mind about something of genuine importance, which is a rare experience for me. I have been in the habit of describing Karl Marx, the GrandDaddy of all these Utopian cultists, as evil, that is, as knowingly destructive and knowingly corrupt intellectually. He knew his theories were nonsense and would kill thousands if not millions, but he didn’t care. But now, following James Lindsay, I am more inclined to regard Marx as merely having been hopelessly deluded, just like the Wokists now. Marx had no great “lust for social catastrophe”, to quote a phrase I recall having used about him. No, his problem was that he didn’t think there’d be any need for a “social catastrophe”, following the historically inevitable triumph of his opinions. “Socialism” would simply proceed, smoothly and inevitably. No fuss, no muss. Unlike the Stalinists and the Maoists, Marx never had to watch all his cherished ideas result in social catastrophe, and hence to decide to resort to mass murder to shore up his otherwise impossible position, as he might have done had he lived to see the Revolution that was contrived in his name and to witness its utter failure to achieve its declared ends.

The rise of global political parties?

I see that Brazil’s President Bolsonoro has been having a go at what Joe Biden said in the US Presidential debate, about Brazil and its rain forests and what he, Joe Biden, was going to do about them.

I am antique enough to remember when only Bolsheviks would plunge into what were then called “the internal affairs” of foreign countries. I suppose the EU was a big old exception to that rule, but that was only in a rather abstract and windy sort of way. Trouble is, modern communications, and I don’t just mean the internet although that is certainly part of this story, make such self-control ever more impossible. Thanks to the electric telegraph, and now its big bully of an offspring, the internet, it is the work of a moment to become acquainted with an argument in a far away country, and now, no matter who you are, you can join in. So, the idea that nobody should is doomed. Gonna happen. Just pick up a phone and start mouthing off to some foreign journo, and if you’re anyone at all big in the cheese department, they print it, or something related to it. Or, just say something about a foreign country shindig in one of your public performances, and those foreigners will maybe pick up on it anyway. Now, just sit down at your keyboard and bang away.

Communists, as I say, have been doing this ever since they got started in the middle of the century before last, during the first few years after the electric telegraph got started (Samuel Morse – 1844). Said the communists, contemplating this latest technological wonder: Workers (which was almost everyone in those days) of the World Unite! And from them on, whether in office or merely trying to be powerful, in public, in private and in the strictest secrecy, they interfered as much as they could in the internal affairs of other countries and they gloried in it. I mean, that was the whole idea.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, however, the world did not abandon nationalism. Quite the reverse. As it turned out, the most important customers of those international electric telegraphs were newspapers, who were printing strictly national versions of world events to suit their strictly national readerships, and businessmen, who didn’t much care and who just want to get rich.

So, towards the end of the twentieth century, most politicians were still going through the motions of not being too public in their disagreements or (perhaps more interestingly) their agreements with politicians in faraway countries. Who the people of The Republic of Elsewhere choose as their leaders is a matter for them, and we will work amicably with whoever they choose, for the greater good of mankind. Blah blah. In private it got more heated, but in public that was the etiquette to be followed, and it mostly was.

Maybe it’s only my personal proximity speaking now, but I’d say that the Reagan Thatcher moment was when this hands-off-the-foreigners rule started being seriously put to one side. Those two made no secret of the fact that the warmth of their connection was not just based on him being President of the USA and her being PM of the UK, special relationship, blah blah. No, they downright agreed with each other, and by clear implication, wanted each other to win all their various elections, against other locals, with whom they clearly disagreed. It helped that all this happened within the Anglosphere.

More recently, I recall President Obama making it very clear who and what he wanted to win the British EU referendum. He was told my many of those who did not share his opinion not to interfere in our internal affairs, but given that he wanted to interfere, there was nothing and nobody to stop him.

Now even the Nationalists are at it, forming what is quite clearly a sort of global National International. Trump and Trumpists everywhere (think Nigel Farage) are starting to show up on the same platforms and to be more than usually friendly towards each other. Trump fights for his corner, which is the USA. And he expects other political leaders to do the same for their countries and to be equally upfront about that. And he wishes them well in their elections, against other politicians who have different tastes in such matters.

Trump has also been sceptical about climate change, as has Bolsonaro, which is all part of why, thanks to all those electric telegraphs, the American Left now hates Bolsonaro with a passion and can spend its entire day hating him, should it be inclined. So, Biden having a go at Brazil is popular with a lot of the people whom he wants to be voting for him. And Bolsonaro makes a similar calculation and hits back at Biden.

There’s lots more I could say about all this, as I often like to say when I am about to stop, but one thing worth emphasising is that the old arrangement – keeping one’s hands off of the other fellow’s back yard and him doing the same – was an unstable equilibrium. It worked if everyone did that, near enough. But once any big time politician breaks from this cosy arrangement, the pressure on the others to follow suit is irresistible.

Thoughts and a purchase provoked by a hand operated mechanical swimming whale

Here.

This is total trivia. I mean, what serious use is this, besides to amuse?

But, the fact that Twitter is full of trivia is not itself trivial. Consider the politics of this. This kind of nonsense appeals to people of all merely ideological inclinations, and is regarded as totally damn silly by lots of other people of all merely ideological inclinations. It thus serves to shake up and to dilute the merely tribal relationships of politics, which must never be allowed to become the only relationships that matter.

Also, my claim that this twiddle-it-yourself swimming whale is mere trivia could be wrong. Many a great invention has begun as a piece of fun.

Let me see if the Internet can back me up on this. Yes, here we go:

Play is a frivolous pastime only to be indulged once the real work of the world is done. Or so we tend to think. But what if play is actually a key driver of progress? In Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson argues that many of our most important innovations – from probability theory to artificial intelligence – have their origins in human beings just trying to have some fun.

Now on its way to me, via Amazon.

I love the Internet.

Also, this is why I like to do quota posting as well as proper posting. Quota postings can lead you (I of course mean me) to all sorts of stuff that proper posting wouldn’t.