Michael McIntyre speaks for me

And for many others, I’m very sure:

I found this here.

I am Old, but I have made enough friends among the Young for me to be able to twist Young arms and mostly get them to do all this for me. The other day a Young Person agreed to get a copy of this CD for me. (I only buy CD’s on line from Amazon, and this CD is not on Amazon.) If I had tried to buy this CD, I would probably have spent longer failing to accomplish this than I will take listening successfully to the CD.

One of the things I like about living in London is that if I want to do buy tickets for something, I can go there beforehand, and buy them, the twentieth century way.

Increasingly, I find that trying to visit any “visitor attraction” is starting to resemble trying to get on an airplane. And as McIntyre explains, booking beforehand on your computer is just as bad.

A good bit, concerning those never-read “terms and conditions”:

I’m slightly worried that in five years time iTunes are going to show up at my door and say: “We own this house now.”

And don’t get me started on passwords. Just watch him speaking (for me) about passwords.

I don’t know why there are big black bits above and below Michael McIntyre. If anyone can suggest a way to get rid of these that I am capable of doing, I would be most grateful.

Stephen Davies on Ruling Classes and Industrious Classes

Stephen Davies is my sort of libertarian historian in many ways, and in particular in not denying the historic importance of the predator class in times gone by. It is one thing to regret the enormous power held by predators, and the comparative powerlessness of producers – the power of the taxers and the impotence of the taxed – but it is quite another to assert that the powerful predators were not in fact the people who made the historically significant decisions and that the impotent producers were actually very powerful. Libertarianism is the claim that the predators should lose their power, not that they have already lost it, or worse, never, historically, had it.

At the heart of Davies’s book The Wealth Explosion is the claim that the wealth explosion only happened because of a rather anomalous glitch in the typical behaviour of the predator class, which took the form of a non-united Europe. Normal predator behaviour throughout the rest of Eurasia meant that the wealth explosion was only able to happen in Europe.

Here (pp. 11-12) is some of what Davies says about this distinction:

There was a basic social division found in all societies after the advent of agriculture. This was between those who produced wealth by production or exchange on the one hand and those who acquired it through the use of force or fraud on the other. The first category included peasant farmers (the great majority) as well as artisans, merchants, and traders of all kinds. The second category were those who controlled not the means of production but what we may call the means of predation – organised force or systematic mystification in other words. These were the ruling classes of society such as aristocrats and clergy. The second group often did come to control and own great wealth and much productive resources, such as land for example, but this was a consequence of their privileged position rather than the cause of it. That position derived in the first instance from their greater access to the means of violence. They were not however simply parasitical because, partly for their own advantage, they came to provide what economists call ‘public goods’ such as defence against other human predators (bandits, criminals, or members of other tribes and political communities), or a means of settling disputes peacefully (so a legal system).

These ruling groups were the primary subjects of historical accounts until very recently. There is a good reason for this, quite apart from the practical point that most of the surviving sources are concerned with them, which is that they were the primary active force in human history. It was rulers and elites who had the power to actually make things happen. They were the ones with agency in other words. In addition, as Peter Laslett famously argued, they were the only social class in society with true class-consciousness, a self-conscious awareness of their own group interest. (Laslett, 2015) This and their nature meant that their relation to innovation and activities that actually changed the world in a positive way was ambivalent. On the one hand, to the extent that innovation led to actual growth in productivity, that meant more resources for them to extract from the productive part of society. On the other hand if it went on for a long enough time it would tend to weaken their position and increase the capacity of other social groups for effective action. Another aspect of the ruling classes historical role was the way that successful groups tended to expand the area of the planet that they controlled and so create an empire. Empires produced internal peace and so although they were created using (often) savage violence, once established they brought social peace to a large part of the planet’s surface. However this also meant an even stronger incentive for the successful group to keep things the same.

And mostly, except in Europe, this is what happened.

Find your way to more bits from this book by going here.

Getting serious about a gun control joke


I considered selling my weapons “back” to the government, but after a background check and thorough investigation into the buyer, I determined the buyer has a history of violence and is mentally unstable. Big risk to everyone around it.

This sounds logical enough, but this “government” (the government of the USA) of which this tweeter tweets already possesses an abundance of weaponry. If the US government collected more guns, that would affect those disarmed, but not the US government. The US government would just become a tiny bit more armed.

Gun control laws would likewise make criminals only a bit less armed. But they would utterly disarm the law-abiding. Which would make the law-abiding far less able to defend themselves against crimes of all kinds. These are, and always have been, the real arguments against gun control.

When a joke is felt to be expressing a truth – and if the comments on this tweet that I have read are anything to go by, then this joke definitely is so felt by many – then it becomes important to get serious about the joke.

Tom Holland on the state of democracy in Britain now

This from Tom Holland:

Those who speak of the death of British democracy seem to me to have it exactly wrong. Everything that is happening is happening because we, as a country, are testing existential issues that many other countries have opted to suppress in a way so democratic as to be titanic.

I reckon he needs a comma after “suppress”, and maybe another after “issues”. The point being that it is the testing which is titanic, rather than the suppressing.

I remember, or think I remember, saying something along these lines in this. If not that one, then in one of those conversations with Patrick. Which, in my mind, are, I now realise, merging into one great big conversation, lasting about twenty five solid hours and counting.

Misbehaving opera stars

Two interesting recent postings by Norman Lebrecht.

First, Anna Nebtrenko has been bunking off from Bayreuth in order to go to a family wedding. Both she and her also-bunking-off husband were simultaneously “ill”, but then put themselves all over social media, being not at all ill, in Azerbaijan.

Lebrecht is not impressed:

Today’s breed of opera managers does not contain many heroes but at some point – and it will not take long – one manager will stand up and say to Netrebko, as Rudolf Bing did to Maria Callas: get out of my house.

For Callas, it was all downhill from that point on.

For Netrebko and Eyvazov, it’s just a matter of time.

I did not know that about Callas and Bing. Blog and learn.

Second, another operatic superstar, Placido Domingo, has been accused of sexual harassment. No force involved, but definitely harassment. Persistent sexual pressure and not taking no for an answer: bad. If the suggestion is that saying yes may result in career advancement, that’s bad too. If the further suggestion is that saying no may result in career retardation, that’s very bad. Domingo is definitely being accused of the first two.

Accused. The comments at Lebrecht alternate between wanting justice for the harassed, and those wanting justice for those accused of harassment, perhaps wrongly.

I favour both. As does Jeannie Suk Gersen.

Police horses outside my front window

Quite a few times, during the last few days, I’ve been hearing the clip-clop of what I already knew to be police horses, outside my home. I knew they were police horses, because those are the only horses I ever see in my vicinity. After a couple of such soundings, I tried to photo them, but by the time I got my camera going, they’d gone.

Yesterday, however, they were back, and I got luckier:

Nice of them to turn right like that, so I could get a less unflattering view of them, wasn’t it?

I tried googling to find where such horses might be based, but am none the wiser. There’s a Facebook page, which keeps saying that there are stables to be found in the middle of Victoria Station, which can’t be right. I’m guessing the stables are just “somewhere in Victoria”, and that’s how they like to keep it. But, what do I know? Not even that, actually.

In this Guardian piece about the work of such horses and their riders, it says this:

The Metropolitan Police has 150 officers and 120 horses at eight stables across London who perform a variety of roles, from high visibility patrolling to appearing at ceremonial functions and carrying out public order duties such as …

Such as the football match the article describes, a friendly, between England and Sweden. And it would seem that what I observed must have been “high visibility patrolling”.

Concerning the football match, we later read this:

It is incredibly moving to watch a line of just six horses effortlessly holding back 35,000 fans. The relationship between the police and the British public may be troubled, but judging by this night at least, it seems the force’s equine members still draw a healthy respect.

Healthy respect? My guess is it’s more a case of everyone knowing that hurting human cops is okay, because all’s fair in love and rioting. But hurt a horse, and the whole world considers you scum. I remember the IRA hurting a horse, and the reaction from everyone was: right, that does it. I do not like the IRA any more. Bombing humans to death in places like Manchester and Ireland. That’s okay. But, a horse? Now they’ve crossed a line.

Surrey v Middlesex T20: Signs and notices

Last night, good friend of mine and of this blog Darren arranged for me to go with him to a cricket match. Thanks a century by Middlesex captain Dawid Malan, Surrey were on the back foot throughout, and were beaten well before the official end.

Which is perhaps why I found myself enjoying all of the many incidentals of the game at least as much as I enjoyed the game itself. Even before I got inside the ground, I was taking photos of signs, many of them involving the names of Surrey greats of the past, familiar from the many hours of my childhood spent listening to cricket on the radio. Although, while I clearly recall Surridge, Lock, Laker, May and Stewart from those far off times, and while I know who Nat Sciver is and who Jack Hobbs (the gate) was, Tom Richardson (the plaque – never noticed that before) was way before my time:

All but the last three of those were photoed before the game had even begun. Darren says he likes to be there to “soak up the atmosphere”, and so we got there at 4.30 pm, for a 6.30 pm start. I had a great time photoing lots of things that you never normally see in regular cricket photos.

That “Welcome to the Kia Oval” sign I include to ram home that if you are anything officially connected to Surrey and you ever refer to the Kia Oval merely as “The Oval”, you will be savagely punished.

As you can see, the World Cup is still being remembered fondly, and smoking is forbidden throughout the ground, as are a bunch of other things, so you don’t feel tempted to throw them at the players. Or the umpires. Also no musical instruments.

The sign which says “4” on it means that someone has hit a 6, almost certainly Malan. That’s because spectators get given cards with 4 on one side and 6 on the other, to flaunt when someone hits a 4 or a 6, and my photoing was from the wrong side of the sign, so to speak. When someone hit a 4, that sign would say, to me, 6. At first I was puzzled at all the signs saying 6 when it was only 4. As you can maybe tell, this is the first T20 game I’ve ever actually been to.

The sign on a pole is to advertise the game at the Oval against Glamorgan tomorrow evening. Having now lost their first two games, Surrey need to start winning.

LATER: I missed this one!:

Next time I go the Oval, I’ll maybe do a complete photo-inventory of all the signs there that I can find. There have to be many more than I encountered yesterday.

A tax infographic about and a meeting at my home about Hong Kong

Dominic Frisby:

Frisby says that Dan Neidle will like this. I don’t know anything about Dan Neidle, other than this. But I like it. As much for the colours and its hand-done nature as for its content.

Concerning Hong Kong, last night I semi- (as in: still to be solidified and date still to be settled) signed up a Hong Kong lady to speak at one of my Last-Friday-of-the-Month meetings, about how Hong Honk is demonstrating back, so to speak, against the Chinese Government’s plans to subjugate it.

I warned her that my meetings are not large, and not as a rule attended by The World’s Movers and Shakers (although such personages do sometimes show up). But that didn’t bother her, or didn’t seem to. She seems to understand instinctively that big things can come out of small gatherings, if only in the form of one suggested contact or one item of information.

Alas, Hong Kong’s era of low and simple taxes is now under severe threat, along with many other more important things.

A musical metaphor is developed

In this blog posting, someone called Judge Ellis is quoted saying, somewhere in America, some time recently or not so recently, in connection with something Trump-related, this:

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud – what you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.

“This vernacular to ‘sing’ is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is that they may not only sing, they may compose.”

Good expression. Never heard it before, although it must have been around for decades.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Wet riser inlet

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about. Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog